Sometimes the most simplest things in life are the best I think. And sometimes nothing is more satisfying than eating a really simple well-made sandwich. When hunger is on the rise for me in the afternoon, and when I have really beautiful freshly made bread in the house; I just have to make a sandwich to quench that hunger. Luckily, I had some thin tender steaks from the grocery store sitting in the fridge ready for me to cook. I just cooked the tender steaks with a little salt, pepper and garlic powder and lightly toasted the bread and started to assemble. For the spread, I used good quality mayo and a little bit of grainy mustard. Serve these babies up with some carrot sticks and cucumber slices/pickles and you have a gorgeous sandwich lunch ready in minutes!

Makes 2 sandwiches

Ingredients:
  • 4 small thin tender steaks, score the meat lightly on both sides
  • coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • good pinch of garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • fresh sour dough bread, sliced into 1-inch slices (need 4 slices)
  • 2-4 thin slices of cheddar
  • 1 medium ripe tomato, sliced thin
  • red leaf lettuce, washed and ready (can substitute other lettuce)
  • mayonnaise (can use low fat)
  • grainy mustard (optional)
  • 8 olives, no pitts (and toothpicks)

1. Preheat a large cast iron skillet, on medium high heat. Take the steaks and lightly score the meat on both sides with a sharp paring knife. Make sure not to make slice marks too deep, you don't want to rip the meat. Season the steaks with salt, pepper, and garlic powder on both sides; but make sure not to over salt the meat.

2. Drizzle the skillet with oil and sear the steaks on both sides. Each side should only take about 3-4 minutes. Steaks should be thin and tender enough to cook quickly. When you're finished cooking, turn the heat off and tent the meat with foil and let it rest for a minute. Meantime, while the steaks are cooking, lightly toast the sour dough bread.

3. Sandwich assembly: On the lightly toasted bread, place a slice or two of cheddar cheese, then two cooked steaks, thinly sliced tomato, and the lettuce leaves. On the top slice of bread, spread with mayo and good quality grainy mustard (if using). Cut the sandwich in half.

Then take two toothpicks and skewer two olives on each, spear through the middle of each sandwich half. Do the same for the other sandwich. Serve with fresh carrot sticks, and cucumber/pickle slices. Goes good also with crispy french fries or chips! Yum!
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Here is a simple recipe for noodle and veggie stirfry that I came up with one afternoon. My mom comes over often and helps me take care of my little girl, so for lunch I decided to use the udon noodles I had sitting in the fridge. I actually bought the noodles to make udon soup but with tons of veggies in the fridge I couldn't resist making a quick one pan dish! I added lots of garlic, a bit of hoisin and soy sauces, and a lot of veggies and shredded chicken. Although there isn't a lot of sauce coating the noodles, the natural flavour of the veggies and the addition of the garlic really made the difference! Since I made this dish for mom that afternoon, we have made it quite a few more times since! Simple and quick home food. That's what I like best :)

Serves 3

Ingredients:
  • 1 pkg (400g) Japanese Udon noodles (cook according to pkg instructions)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, sliced thin
  • 1 tsp gochuchang (Korean hot pepper sauce OR substitute: Chinese hot sauce)
  • 2 tbsps soy sauce (can add an additional teaspoon if you wish)
  • 2-3 tbsps hoisin sauce
  • 1 head broccoli, florets only
  • 1/2 cup carrots, shredded
  • 4-6 mushrooms, sliced thin
  • small red and orange bell peppers, cut into thin strips
  • 2 green onions, cut in half, then sliced thin lengthways
  • handful of snow peas (optional)
  • 1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken or pre-cooked chicken breast, shredded
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock (use more as needed)
  • salt and ground black pepper (to taste)

1. Preheat a pot of boiling water. Once it comes up to temperature, place in the noodles and cook according to package instructions. Then drain thoroughly in a colander, rinse in cold water and set aside for now.

2. Preheat a wok on medium high heat. Drizzle in the veggie oil, then add in the garlic, sliced onion, gochuchang or hot sauce, soy sauce, and hoisin sauce. Give it a quick stir to combine and saute the ingredients. Cook for 1-2 minutes.

3. Add in the veggies at this point: broccoli florets, shredded carrot, mushrooms, orange and red bell pepper strips, green onion, and snow peas (if using). This part goes rather quickly, so you want to make sure to have all of the veggies cut up ahead of time. Cook for 2 minutes, then add in the shredded chicken and heat for 1 minute.

4. Quickly, add in the cooked udon noodles and the chicken stock and toss with two big wooden spoons until the noodles have heated through, and all of the ingredients have combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately and enjoy!
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Now I have to admit something here dear readers... I am not the biggest fan of pork! Unless it's barbequed ribs hehe. I had a little allergy to pork growing up and my mom just never bothered to really make me any pork. As I grew into the teens, I decided to give it another go! What I discovered was I could eat pork, in moderation. So in essence, I had grew out of the allergy (for the most part). That's the "yay!"  part of the story, but the not so good part was that I never learned to really get around the "porky" flavour...unless... of course it had some thick sauce to cover it or some type of bread coating to mask it's "porky" flavour. So here I came up with another lucious sauce to cover that flavour, and I let the natural tenderness of the pork tenderloin really shine through. If I have to choose a cut of pork that I love it's tenderloin. It just melts in your mouth. This is a good one folks! If you're a fan of pork or just want a sauce to cover (like me) than give this a go tonight! OR you could always use this sauce on chicken too. Bon appetite!

Serves 2 generously or 3

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F

Baking time: about 25-30 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 1 pork tenderloin (nearly 1.5 lbs)
  • 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 4 dashes worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsps grainy mustard
  • 2 tbsp figs and port jam (specialty item, can substitute with a sweet jam like peach)

1. Preheat a non-stick skillet on medium high heat. Take the pork tenderloin, trim off the fat from the top and bottom, then drizzle a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Sear the meat on all sides. This should take a couple minutes. Then place the meat onto a foil-lined baking tray.

2. Preheat the oven to 425 F. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, worcestershire sauce, grainy mustard, and the figs and port jam. Pour all of the sauce mixture on top of the seared tenderloin, but make sure to reserve 2 tbsps aside.

3. Place it into the oven to bake for about 30 minutes. Take it out half way through and re-bast it with the sauce that has dripped down. Check with a meat thermometer for doneness. Make sure not to overcook the meat. Take the meat out and tent it with a sheet of foil and let it cool a minute before slicing. Serve warm along side sweet potato fries and green peas.

Cook's Tip: You can use this sauce on 3-4 chicken breasts. You don't have to sear the chicken breasts though just bake until fully cooked.
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Korean "bu-cheem" is essentially the Korean version of a thin savoury pancake. It is a very satisfying easy dish that can easily feed one to many people. The one I am showing you here is one with only a single filling ingredient (i.e. zucchini) but there are many many versions of this. You can put in cooked sliced potatoes, sliced green onion, kimchi with its juices, thinly sliced steamed carrots etc. The options are endless! This is another one of my mother's recipes that she passed down to me. The one in the picture are actually ones that my mom made while she was at my home. My little girl loves these to bits! The texture is kind of like naan bread but a bit thinner, and stickier. Zucchini has such a mild earthy flavour that the soy dip helps to heighten its flavour further. I just love eating these! I think I will go and help myself to another one right now..... Enjoy!

Makes 6-8

Ingredients:
  • 1 large zucchini or 2 medium sized zucchini, de-seed and slice into thin strips
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • salt and ground pepper
  • 4 tbsp roasted soybean powder (can be purchased at Korean/Asian markets)
  • 2-1/4 cups water (use more if needed)
  • vegetable oil (for cooking with)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp gochugaru (Korean ground chili peppers)

1. Take the zucchini and de-seed it in the middle, and slice it into thin strips. Place it into a colander and lightly salt them. Place the colander on top of a bowl and let some of the water drain for a couple minutes, then using clean hands, lightly wring out excess water. You don't want extra water in the batter.

2. In a large mixing bowl, add in the flour, pinch of salt and pepper, and roasted soybean powder. Take the water and slowly mix it through using a big whisk. Mix in the sliced zucchini into the batter. The batter shouldn't be too thick.

3. Preheat a medium sized non-stick skillet, on medium heat, and drizzle a little bit of oil. Place in 2 ladle fulls of the batter onto the hot skillet, and evenly distribute it around using your ladle. The pancake should not be like a flat bread, it should be a thin pancake so try to be fast when distributing the batter. Cook for 2 -3 minutes per side or until the pancake is lightly crisp. If you like it more crispy than go another minute or so.

4. As you finish each pancake, place them onto a large plate. When you're finished and ready to serve, slice them into bite size pieces using clean kitchen scissors. Remember, this is a home dish you don't need to have even pieces.

5. For the sauce: In a small bowl, add in the soy sauce, vinegar and gochugaru and mix through. Serve along side the bu-cheem.

Cook's Tip: If you don't plan to eat all of the pancakes, then don't cut all of the pieces. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the plate of pancakes and place them into the fridge. When you're ready to eat them again, then place them onto a hot skillet (without oil) and let it heat through on both sides. I recommend eating these within a couple days.




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KOREAN WARM TOFU WITH A SPICY SOY-GARLIC SAUCE

Whenever I flip through the lifestyle/food section of the paper or look through a multitude of cookbooks I always see so many vegetarian options. Tofu has become a rather popular go-to protein source for many vegetarians and vegans alike. Now although, as you fine readers know, I am not a vegetarian by any means, I do love to have a light meal from time to time. Being of Korean background, I grew up eating tons of tofu! I mean tons! It was always in popular Korean hot pot dishes or served as a side dish, such as this beauty here. This is one of the most simplest Korean spicy side dishes that really anyone can make. It goes perfectly with a nice small bowl of rice and some lightly sauteed veggies or for me it would go perfectly with Korean kimchi. Try that for some more spice! If you're a tofu lover like me and looking for a little spicy variety in your daily menu try this. This is quite the looker on the plate but for me it tastes even better. So without further adieu, here is my mother's simple recipe for tofu with a spicy sauce. Enjoy!

Serves 2

Ingredients:
  • 1 pkg of soft tofu, drained (For freshness use your nose: it shouldn't smell like really anything)
  • 2-3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Gochugaru (Korean ground chili peppers)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil (can omit if you wish)
  • 1 tsp water
  • sesame seeds (to sprinkle when serving, optional)

1. Open the package of tofu and slice it lengthways in half. Place it into a small pot of boiling water and let it heat through, literally for no more than 2 minutes. You don't want it to start falling apart.

2. While it cooks, take a small mixing bowl, and add in the soy sauce, gochugaru, grated garlic, green onion, sesame oil and water. Quickly mix it with a spoon. Take the heated through tofu out carefully, place it onto the serving platter and with a knife slice it into bite size squares.

3. Pour the spicy sauce over on top of the warmed tofu and serve immediately along side some rice, veggies and if you wish kimchi! My mom says traditionally Korean people eat this alone with beer. The spice adds a bit of something to the beer, so hey cheers!




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MATT'S BEER WE GO! HOBGOBLIN BEER

Now, take a look at your calendar dear reader and if it's anything like mine (I hope it is otherwise I gotta check my watch), it's early May. Winter has vanished, Spring is in the air, and we're looking towards patios, chat, fun with friends, and beer, beer, beer, and of course, beer.
So why am I still stuck in October?
Easy! I love Hallowe'en!
Well, not to the point where I dress up my dog* like Dogula© (*NOTE: I have no dog) or decorate my house** to look like a reincarnation of 1313 Mockingbird Lane (**NOTE: I have no house), but I do thoroughly enjoy it!
So, even after the fact, why not go out and enjoy a Hallowe'en themed beer, in this case, made by our friends at Wychwood Brewery (they're in the UK) called Hobgoblin! Why, the delightfully spooky label art even has a creepy little goon on the front who looks like he's ready to raise a little hell. Sadly, said label art is about all the pleasure I derived from this beer.
The ghastly details are next!
And here they are! (I don't believe in making the reader wait, 'cept for wasting your time right now reading this crap about how I don't like to make you wait – kinda ironic, huh?)
Get yourself a bottle opener, you're gonna need it, and peel off the cap – which too has a little goblin on top – and you'll pour yourself a quite deep, orangey brownish yellow colour beer, so much so in fact that light can scarcely pierce its evil soul – just like Newt Gingrich! (Just kidding Newt!)
Its nose is deceptively sweet, with notes of fruit, spice, orange peel, and perhaps, licorice? (I wrote a “?” beside that flavour note.)
Taste time, and set your taste buds to dry – and while you're at it, bitter as well. This is an incredibly hoppy beer, whose bitterness increases at the end. (Again just like Newt Gingrich!) I also picked up (probably falsely) malt on the finish as well. The taste really is strong, not sweet at all, dry, and just overwhelmingly hoppy.
I will however, give this beer a chance to speak before I past sentence! “Full bodied & well balanced with a chocolate toffee malt (Editor's Boasting: I HA I was right!) flavour, moderate (?!) bitterness & a distinctive fruity character & ruby red glow.”
Alas, this scream fest was not for me. I am not a fan of dark hop ales/beers. At all. As usual, the nose on these dark beers, for me anyway, is the best part – it's all down hill from there.
So, if you love dark beers, this may be for you, if not, save yourself a trip down Elm Street, and avoid this nightmare. BOO!
** out of 4

Purchased at a Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) store for C$3.50 (US$3.51).

From LCBO.com:

HOBGOBLIN EXTRA STRONG ALE+, 500mL bottle
  • LCBO #435743
  • Beer, Ale, Bitter Ale
  • 5.2% Alcohol/Vol.
  • Made in: England, UK
  • By: The Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd.



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SPINACH & RICOTTA RAVIOLI WITH ASPARAGUS & SUNDRIED TOMATO TOSS

This is a vegetarian dish that I made for dinner one night recently. I always buy fresh ravioli and have it in the freezer just in case I want to make a "restaurant-esque" quick meal for dinner. Although I usually have some sort of meat included in my meals, on this particular night I didn't thaw anything from the freezer. I have to admit this happens to me far too often! Thawing is a process I loath, anyways I shall continue... I always find when I'm doing a simple vegetable and pasta dish one of the best veggies to include is asparagus. I just love it! It looks elegant on the plate and its earthy taste matches perfectly with the mellow flavour of the pasta itself. I added a bit of sundried tomato strips for a nice salty tomato bite and in mere minutes I had dinner ready to eat! It was a quick meal at a time when I just didn't want to make anything. Luckily, the hubby liked what I made and said "hun, it was good, you should make this again sometime." Sounds like a winner to me. Bon appetite!

Serves 3

Ingredients:
  • 1 pkg of fresh spinach and ricotta ravioli
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (a little extra to drizzle on top when serving)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 pinch chili flakes
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 bundle thin asparagus, cut into thirds (minus the bottom tough bit)
  • salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup thin pre-sliced carrots (sold in pkgs)
  • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup low sodium vegetable or chicken stock
  • 4 sundried tomatoes, sliced thin

1. Put on a pot of water to boil. In the meantime, in a large shallow pan, on medium high heat, drizzle in the olive oil and butter. Add in the garlic, chili flakes, lemon zest, and shallots. Saute for a few minutes, until the shallot is cooked. Lower the heat to medium.

2. Then add in the asparagus pieces, and cook until it is tender-crisp. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Note: while the asparagus is cooking go ahead and add the ravioli into the pot of boiling water. Cook according to the package instructions.

3. Add the pre-sliced carrots in and squeeze the lemon juice in at this point, stir and cook for a minute. Then add in the vegetable or chicken stock, sundried tomatoes, and the cooked ravioli. Toss all of the cooked ingredients together, adding more stock if necessary. Once everything is tossed through, turn the heat off and serve immediately. Serve with a little drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice if you wish. Enjoy!




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Here is a recipe that I cannot believe I never posted on my food blog....congee! or in Korean we call our version "juk!". Whichever, you prefer to call it, this was a very important staple at our household growing up. It was actually one of the first meals that I wanted to eat as a little tot, so says my mom, and much to my surprise my little daugher loves it just as much too! This was the ultimate comfort food for me. Now although my mom loved to cook homemade chicken soup, spaghetti with tomato sauce etc. like most North American mothers, my mom always made room for juk. Especially during times when I just didn't feel 100%. What I love about this dish is the simplicity if it, and how satisfying it is for something so simple. Every bowl brings back some childhood memory, so this is my version of juk that I want to share with you wonderful readers.

I want to dedicate this post to my wonderful loving mother, who without her I wouldn't have the appreciation and love for food that I have to this day. Love you mom and a early Happy Mother's Day to you!

Adapted from the "Easy Rice Congee" recipe from Food.com: Home of the Home Cook. Additions to this recipe inspired by my mom.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
  • 4-5 cups of water or chicken broth (use more liquid as needed)
  • 2 small lean chicken breasts, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup white rice (I used Korean sticky rice. Don't use quick cooking rice)
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced into small pieces
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • small handful of broccoli, chopped into little florets
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced finely
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced finely (optional)
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • pinch of salt and ground black pepper, to taste

1. In a medium saucepan, add in the water or broth, bring the liquid to a boil with lid on, then add in the chicken. Cook the chicken all the way through, then take the chicken out and place it into a bowl to cool slightly.

2. Pour in the rice and give it a good stir. Let it cook until the rice is about half cooked, it should still have a bite to it. Remember to stir occassionally while it's cooking throughout. The rice will sink to the bottom of the pot and burn otherwise. Then add in the chopped carrots, green onions, broccoli, the minced garlic, ginger and light soy; then give it a good stir. Let it cook the rest of the way, and if you find there isn't enough liquid go ahead and add a bit more.

3. The congee or juk should have a thick, almost creamy consistency from the starch in the rice. It should not be as thick as Italian risotto, and should have a bit more of a soupy consistency. Once the congee is at the consistency you want it, and once the rice has cooked through give it a taste. Add a little salt and pepper if you wish. Slice the chicken into thin strips and add it into the congee at this point OR you can save it to serve on top of the congee. Turn the heat off and let cool slightly before serving. Enjoy!




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