Cooking Class #2

Last night I was really tired and so I posted some very cute pictures of our dogs. The reason why I was so tired was because after work my friend Donna, her mom, and I attended another cooking demo/class at Sobey’s.

Last night’s theme was Thai comfort food, I have to say it didn’t disappoint. Chef Patrick created a menu that is easy to replicate and tastes so divine. It gave me the chance to hear him speak about his experiences on Chopped Canada that aired this past Saturday night. Any regular reader of this blog will already know that I love all the behind the scenes info and I was glued to Chef Patrick’s every word about how it works off camera. The other awesome thing about last night was that I got to meet his lovely fiancee Andrea Lauren who was super sweet and I am so thrilled for the both of them, they are busy planning their wedding and planning a honeymoon in Thailand!

Last night’s dishes in order in which they were served were:

COCONUT AND LEMONGRASS SOUP WITH SHRIMP

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INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted

1 thumb size piece fresh ginger, minced

1 stalk lemon grass, white bulb minced, stalk reserved for soup pot

2 teaspoons red curry paste

4 cups vegetable broth

3 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

2 cans coconut milk

1/2 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms sliced

1 large tomato, chopped

1 pound medium shrimp – peeled and deveined

1 lime, zested and juiced (need about 2 tablespoons of juice)

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

3/4 cup chopped scallions

STEPS

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook and stir the ginger, lemongrass, and curry paste in the heated oil for 1 minute until fragrant. Slowly pour the vegetable broth over the mixture stirring continually. Stir in the fish sauce, brown sugar and lime zest simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk, mushrooms and tomato; cook and stir until the mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook until no longer translucent about 5 minutes. Stir in the lime juice and states; soup should have equal balance of spicy, sweet, salty, and sour. Garnish with cilantro and scallions and enjoy!

I have to say that when I looked at the ingredient list, I had reservations about liking this soup. I’m NOT a fan of cilantro but for some reason the flavour of the cilantro did not over power the rest of the flavours. I would have eaten a huge bowl of this if I had been able to. I would love to make it at home but no one but me would eat it, which may not be a bad thing.

Nest up:

THAI GREEN MANGO SALAD

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INGREDIENTS

2 red or green Thai chiles, with seeds, chopped

1 clove garlic chopped

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

3/4 cup fish sauce

2 tablespoons avocado oil

2 teaspoons light brown sugar

4 green mangoes julianned

1 cup of bean sprouts

2 medium shallots, thinly sliced

1/2 cup unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup dry unsweetened coconut

2 tablespoons toasted dried shrimp (optional)

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

kosher salt

STEPS

Puree chiles, garlic, lime juice, fish sauce, oil, and sugar in a blender until smooth.

Toss mangoes, bean sprouts, shallots, peanuts, coconut, cilantro, mint, basil, dried shrimp if using, sesame seeds, and dressing in a large bowl; season with lightly with salt, enjoy!

The hardest part about this is getting everything sliced and diced once it’s all tossed up it’s SO good. You can make the dressing ahead of time and it keeps for a while.

This salad was served alongside our next recipe:

THAI PORK SATAY

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The pork all marinated ready to grill (or in our case broil)

INGREDIENTS

1 cup coconut milk

3 tablespoons chopped lemongrass

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 tablespoon chopped galangal or ginger

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon yellow curry paste

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon fish sauce

2 limes, cut in half

12 oz. pork loin, cut into 1″-wide, 1/4″ thick slices

STEPS

Wooden skewers soaked (this is only for presentation so feel free to skip)

Puree 1/2 cup coconut milk, lemon grass, oil, galangal (or ginger), sugar, garlic, spices, fish sauce and curry paste in a food processor. Toss paste and pork in a large bowl and marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours. Don’t leave any longer than 4 hours as the the texture of the meat will change.

Set a grill over medium high heat. Thread a couple slices of pork on each skewer, brush with remaining coconut milk and grill turning once until charred and cooked through, about 7 minutes total. Remove from the grill and squeeze fresh lime juice all over satays. Enjoy!

These were simply fantastic!

Up next:

THAI DRUNKEN NOODLES

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INGREDIENTS

1 200g package pad Thai noodles

4 chicken thighs cut into bite size pieces

1 cup basil leaves, preferably Thai

2 shallots, chopped

2 scallions, white and green parts chopped

3 large cloves of garlic, minced

2 Thai bird chillis finely chopped (if you can’t find these just use good old Jalapeno)

2 eggs beaten

2 tablespoons peanut oil

SAUCE

3 tablespoons oyster sauce

1 1/4 tablespoon mushroom soy sauce (or just plain Thai soy sauce)

1 1/2 tablespoons normal dark soy sauce

2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup Sake rice wine

STEPS

Cook noodles according to instructions on package. Drain when ready. Make sure to rinse noodles under cold water.

Put Sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix to combine.

Heat oil in wok or pan over high heat. Add garlic and chilli and cook for 10 seconds. Add the eggs and cook stirring constantly until just set. Add chicken and fry until cooked partially through, about 2 minutes.

Add the shallots/scallions and about 1 tablespoon of the sauce and stir fry for 30 seconds, just to coat the chicken. Add the noodles and sauce and cook for a couple minutes until the sauce has coated the noodles completely and they start to brown.

Remove from heat and immediately add basil leaves, stir until just wilted, then serve immediately. Enjoy with a cold Tiger Beer.

Chef Patrick gave a great tip for this one, make sure ALL of your ingredients are ready to go, all cut up and the sauce is mixed ready to go. Don’t wait until the end to cook the noodles have those done before starting to fry.

Last but not least:

THAI FRIED BANANAS WITH COCONUT CREAM

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INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

1 can coconut milk, well stirred

1/2 cup whole milk

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup granulated sugar

4 egg yolks, at room temperature

vegetable oil, for frying (don’t use olive oil, use a neutral flavored oil)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

3/4 cup hot water

3/4 cup rice flour

1/2 cup desiccated coconut, toasted

1/2 cup coconut milk well stirred

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons baking powder

8 ripe baby bananas or 4 large normal bananas

1/2 cup salted dry-roasted peanuts, roughly chopped.

STEPS

FOR THE COCONUT CREAM SAUCE: Toast the desiccated coconut in a small saute pan over medium heat until just browned. combine the coconut milk, toasted coconut, whole milk, and kosher salt in a small saucepan and bring up to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer for 5 minutes, and then turn off the heat and steep for 30 minutes.

Strain the coconut mixture through a fine-mesh strainer and into another small saucepan, using a wooden spoon or spatula to press down on the solids. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks in a mixing bowl, and then whisk in 1/4 cup of the hot coconut milk mixture to temper the eggs. Gradually whisk in the rest of the hot coconut milk and transfer the mixture back to the saucepan. Using a wooden spoon stir over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon, for 10 to 12 minutes. Strain into a mixing bowl and place plastic wrap directly on to of the sauce to prevent a skin from forming. Allow to cool at room temperature while you make the fried bananas.

FOR THE FRIED BANANAS: Fill a wok with 3 inches of vegetable oil or a large dutch oven with 2 inches. Heat the oil to 375 degrees F over medium-high heat.

Put the brown sugar in a small bowl, add the hot water and stir until the sugar is dissolved. In a baking dish whisk together the rice flour, desiccated coconut, coconut milk, all-purpose flour, baking powder and the sugar/water mixture to form a thin batter. Allow the batter to sit for 10 minutes while you prep the bananas.

If using baby bananas, simply peel and slice each lengthwise, if using normal bananas slice each in half and then again lengthwise. Dip the sliced bananas in the batter, shaking off any excess and fry the bananas until golden brown and crispy, turning occasionally for 1 to 2 minutes. Place the fried bananas on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil. Serve with chopped peanuts and coconut cream sauce for dipping. Enjoy!

I would eat this meal again in a heartbeat! So good. please let me know  if you end up trying any of these, I would love to see your pictures and know what you thought.

Places I would love to travel to

travel 1

As I get ready for yet another trip to lovely Toronto it makes me think of all the places I could get to if I was going to the airport. I had thought about saving this topic for another epic top 10 list but it’s cold outside so I thought writing about all the amazing places that I would drop almost anything for to go to.

First one wouldn’t be all that warm right now but visiting the great city of New York!

travel 2

I want to spend a good few weeks at New York City to see the American Museum of Natural History, tour the Bronx, Central Park, Empire State building, Museum of Modern Art, New York Public Library, and the 9/11 Memorial. I would love to see a show on and off Broadway, to stand in times square slowly look up and around and just take it all in. I don’t want to ever be there for New Years eve, standing there for over 12 hours without going to the potty, that’s just crazy.

When my sister worked for Starwood Hotels one of the hotels we both drooled over was in Belize.

Travel 3

I would love to to sit on the beach with no phone, and a pile of books and just laze away the days. I would go to the Belize zoo, the Maya ruins of Xunantunich, but seriously laying on the beach is the thing I would to in Belize.

I have learned that I wouldn’t want to drive here but I would love to stroll around and sit at an outdoor cafe. Italy!

Travel 4

Visiting the typical tourist spots would totally be on the agenda, the Colosseum, Pompeii, would float the Blue Grotto, I would need to visit Murano Island to watch the glass blowers make beautiful works of art. would visit the Leaning tower of Pisa, a wine tour of the vineyards in Italy sounds divine, although I’m not catholic I would love to the Vatican City, I would want to eat everything, everywhere!

I know a few people that have traveled to Australia, and a friend of mine has since moved and it’s so beautiful.

Travel 5

I would really love to see the wild life of Australia, visit the sanctuaries and volunteer some hours if I could, help out. Seeing a performance at the famous Opera House is on my bucket list. Another stack of books for another beach to get lost in. I would enjoy the warmth, sunshine and people.

I have read about my friend Joe’s trips to Hong Kong for years each time I drool… I really want to go.

Travel 6

This trip would be about food, I would eat at as many places as Joe and his girlfriend have eaten at. I would visit the temples outside of Hong Kong. I’m not 100% sure where else I would visit, I know there is a Disneyland there, I’m not too keen on visiting the one here in North America and I may try the one in Hong Kong, I’d fear the looks I would get in Hong Kong so might as well go all out and have a blast!

I would love to travel across the pond and visit the UK, the weather can be questionable, but I’m Canadian.

Travel 7

I’m so fascinated by Stonehenge that I would need to visit and cross it off my bucket list. Going around London, going to the art galleries, visiting Buckingham Palace, I bet there are tours that would visit the historic buildings which would be a must. I would also want to visit the country side, take a few books and just reflect on life while soaking in the greenery.

I will add to this list maybe tack on to this post or create a new one. Where are some places you want to travel?

A Great Night

SA

After a good day at work it’s nice to have some downtime with a friend, kick back, and have fun. Today starts a busy week for me whereby I’m out doing something neat after work most days. Tonight I headed out with my friend Marnie to do Social Art KW. I’ve written about this before but here is a refresher for those new to my blog or who just plum forgot!

A group of upwards of 30 people all converge at a local pub or restaurant with nothing and come out with a work of art that they are happy with, or at least tolerate! My first one was a fall scene I took myself out on my birthday and this is where I first reconnected with Marnie. We have worked together in the same building for years but hadn’t had the chance to hang out. I was a little (ok a lot) worried about my first time at this event but was excited. I was sad that no one was able to come with me but determined to have a good time. Marnie noticed me first, approached me and welcomed me to sit with her and we ordered food before things got under way. I’m forever grateful for her for doing that because I doubt I would have spoken with anyone, I would have kept to myself, did my painting and bused home. Instead I ended up really connecting with her, had a great time and painted a scene I could tolerate. It’s currently hiding but here is a picture:

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My first ever attempt

My second time going was as a private party that was hosted with a former co-worker and friend Lisa. She had really wanted to go to an event but none of the dates worked with her schedule so she made a private party and we painted an owl, It’s still growing on me but at least it’s hanging up in the dining room!

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Midnight owl

That brings us to tonight’s outing, which was much like the first. Marnie and I went together and it was hosted at Fionn MacCool’s in Kitchener near where SportsWorld used to be. It’s my first time there and I liked it. I couldn’t eat much as I’m still recovering from that torture of a tooth removal so I tried their Latke Grilled Cheese which I was only able to really eat the centers and the pickles on top, I also tried their Apple Crumble Pie, they don’t dice the apples they have them slicked which meant when they cook with the skins it makes them a bit tough to eat so sadly most of this went untouched as well. Have to say the coffee was great!

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Dinner

We started painting at about 6:30pm and I got home about 9:15pm, so it was a pretty good evening event. Rachel is really great at walking you through each step, and when you get behind or need extra help she is always there to lend a hand. Just don’t ask her to actually put paint to canvas on yours because she won’t..this is not a bad thing, as it is meant to be your work of art. Being this was my third one I really didn’t want to rush so I found myself quite behind everyone else. I was working on my background and hills while everyone had just about finished the windmill. I took great care to ensure that the background and the ground were blended nicely as I found that with my first one I didn’t do this well. The windmill posed lots of challenges with the lines, filling in, and the blades. If I had to pick a favourite element from today’s painting I would say my background and my grass. If I had to pick something I could change it would be the hills and the blades of the windmill.

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 Finished painting

If you live in the area or are coming to KW for a visit please check Social Art KW’s webpage (http://www.socialart.ca/) for upcoming dates because it’s well worth the $30, I love seeing how everyone’s turn out, and I try very hard not to compare mine to everyone else’s because I always feel that mine doesn’t stack up.

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Progression shots

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Paints!

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Marnie & I

Places To Eat Locally

Eat Local 1

I never describe my self as a foodie, mostly because the way my jaw is sometimes it’s hard for me to eat much of anything however in recent years I have found my attitude towards food and eating to be changing. I would attribute that to the growing local food scene. I would imagine that this is true of most places, with the popularity of food trucks, The Food Network, and the push to eat locally I find that my own eagerness to support my local farmers, bakers, cooks, and retailers is always growing.

Today’s entry is dedicated to all those in the KW (Kitchener-Waterloo) area who are serving up amazing local eats! If I haven’t yet visited you can expect me soon, I hunger for what you are offering!

Eat Local 8

First up I want to tell you about a little cafe near where I work called The Scone Ladies. As I write this i’m trying to remember exactly where I first heard about them, I believe something online caught my attention and since it was so close to work I popped in not too long after they opened their doors. Located at 15 Scott Street in Downtown Kitchener, Libby, Bekah, and Laura opened a quaint, amazing place to get some great food. I remember that before my first visit I was trying to be kind to my bank account and trying to cut down on my daily trips to Starbucks on my way in to work and I think I might have been on week 2 and doing very well, and very proud of myself that I was making coffee at home and drinking it on my commute in to work on public transit. Yeah…well WAS doing good is the key word here because the moment I stepped in to The Scone Ladies all respect for my wallet went out the window. I have been a regular almost every day since I first stepped foot in the door. I have told all my co-workers, friends and family that they should go. If you are reading this and you live in KW and you haven’t yet been, you are crazy and need to go. Libby and Laura are the bakers and the the 2 most often minding the Cafe, I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Bekah yet but hope one day to change that and give her a hug! They sell scones, cookies, cakes, dessert bars, sandwiches, home made (from scratch) soups, well check out their website to see all the goodies.

Eat Local 7

The Scone Ladies: Bekah, Libby, & Laura

Here are their links:

Twitter: @TheSconeLadies

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sconelasdies

Website: http://www.thesconeladies.ca/home.html

Eat Local 6

Another local bakery I heard about through twitter. I saw a tweet from a local shop saying that Debrodnik’s Donuts would be doing a pop up. I’m a sucker for from scratch made donuts so i decided to head down to get some. I clearly couldn’t read and realized after I already got there that I was a day late…so what’s a girl to do but come back the next day! I ended up getting to the pop-up sale a bit late and was only able to get 2 donuts which I only got a small sample as i gave them to my sister and brother-in-law, they were a hit! Seeing my enthusiasm Deborodnik’s hooked me up with a few dozen donuts for my co-workers and I was able to finally down one…all I can say is they are heaven on a plate, or bowl, or napkin, heck they don’t need to go on anything just eat them, quickly! SO so good, they make loads of yummy flavours. They currently don’t have a retail outlet (yet!) so they do many pop-up sales. Again if you live in KW you really do need to visit them at their next pop-up and grab more than one to try! Get me some too!

They don’t have a website but you can follow them on twitter: @debrodniksdonut

Eat Local 2

Another local favourite of mine that I don’t get to as often as I wish is The Symposium Cafe. They have some really great food, great service and really REALLY great desserts. They take you on a tour of their available desserts, seriously they talk very excitedly about all the options available and it’s very hard for this girl to pick just one. It’s a great place to take a date as the menu has so many options and they always have a special going on. I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting the owners but I know they are doing great and they are expanding to more cities across Ontario. If you live in the area or plan on visiting our region this one is a must. I don’t have a favorite dish as I haven’t been enough times to sample everything but their fish & chips are fantastic and I would have them again for sure. Although I would be just as happy to sit in their comfy lounge for a coffee and some cake…or pie…or tart……

Eat Local 3

Picture of their Waterloo location lounge

You can view their menu on their website: http://symposiumcafe.com/index.html

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SymposiumCRL

Twitter: @CafeSymposium

Eat Local 10

I have only eaten at BreadBaron Sandwiches only once but they get a mention here because 1) they are local and close to my work, and 2) the sandwiches are freaking good. They are located on the upper level of the Kitchener Market located downtown Kitchener and I plan to visit again real soon!

Check out their menu and read more about them on their website: http://breadbaron.com/

Twitter: @bre4dbaron

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/breadbaron.sandwiches

Eat Local 11

I’m a regular at their downtown Kitchener location because they have super fast service and super great food. I enjoy the tacos and burritos the most. They have many locations throughout Kitchener-Waterloo and if you have a craving for some Mexican flavour this should be your destination. If you are vegetarian they have great options to satisfy all! They make homemade tortilla chips and fresh salsa that you really can’t go wrong with. I dare you NOT to like this place.

Website: http://www.freshmex.ca/zgrid/themes/10581/intro/index.jsp

Twitter: @HolyGuac

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/holyguacamolefreshmex

Eat Local 5

I’m sad to report that although i’m writing about Taco Farm I have yet to actually set foot there which I hope to rectify soon. I have followed them on twitter for some time and I can honestly say their tweets have made me hungry and have had my mouth watering. They sell taco kits that let you have their experience at home which I bet is worth it!

If you have had the pleasure of eating here please place your review in the comments!

Website: http://tacofarm.ca/

Twitter: @TacoFarmCo

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tacofarmco