Cooking

Gyuudon

It’s been just about a week since moving into my new apartment, and tonight I made something new, one of my favourites from Japan – Donburi! Donburi is a delicious bowl of meat and vegetables served over rice, often with an egg topping. I used beef in mine, which makes it ????? (gyuudon, literally “beef bowl”). I followed this recipe because it was one of the simpler ones and I wanted to get the basics down before trying something more complicated. I used green beans as my vegetable, which I will admit I don’t remember having on a don before, but it was pretty delicious. I also seasoned the meat with salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne to give it a bit of extra kick. I guess I’ve grown to like a bit of spice in my food. I considered adding garlic powder with the scallion, but it didn’t feel right. Maybe I should have used some onion powder, or used more onion, as that flavour didn’t come across as well.

The beef was a little tough, I will need to cook it a little less or tenderize it for next time. I’ll also need to get larger bowls for proper presentation. All in all, it was delicious and I am quite happy with it. It’s just my nature to nitpick.

I haven’t found my camera yet. It’s in a box somewhere, I’m just not sure which one. Until then, cell phone pictures. I’m strongly considering making katsu kare in the next couple weeks. Cooking with Dog‘s video looks pretty straightforward.


Equipment brands

I know, I know, I haven’t been posting. I’ve been busy with work and just not motivated to cook anything interesting. Also, given my position as an employee at Relic, it’s not exactly kosher for me to talk about video game ideas any more. Not like I posted much before So, the blog’s going to be focused entirely on cooking now, articles online that warrant more than a Facebook link and quick comment for me to dissect, and critiques of games I’ve been playing. For example, the latest privacy changes to Facebook and why my account is stripped of almost all information, and my disappointment with Final Fantasy XIII, especially the latter part.

For the meat of the post, though – I am moving out in June, into a pretty decent new-ish apartment in New Westminster, near the Skytrain. I’m going to need to buy my own pots and pans, and kitchen knives, and could use some recommendations. A good friend’s former boss at EA is a trained chef and once upon a time, recommended All-Clad pots and pans, and GLOBAL knives. I’d like to hear more suggestions on what other people use, or the brands they’ve tried and didn’t have success with. I’m by no means a trained chef; I’m decidedly an amateur who wants to become a better cook and make delicious, eye-catching food.

To that extent, I should really research the different materials that go into modern cooking equipment. Why is copper so good? Why stainless or aluminium? What about ceramics for ovenware? There’s too much I don’t know right now.

Anyway, input desired.


Breakfast for Dinner – Omelettes

So I came back from Japan safely back in November, cooked a bit, and didn’t bother to blog about it.  I’ve made sushi twice and my stirfry once, using a new wok I got over Christmas.  But that’s not what this post is about.   This post is about the omelettes, hashbrowns, and cinnamon toast I made for dinner tonight!

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Going clockwise, there’s chopped genoa salami, tomato, Yukon gold potato, green onion, and cheddar cheese.  The salami, tomato, and green onion went in a pan with some margarine and cooked over medium heat, becoming the filling for my omelettes.

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The hashbrowns were straightforward.  Chop the potatoes and put them in a pan with a little oil over medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally after the first 10 minutes to prevent sticking and evenly cook the sides.  Salt and pepper was to be added at the end, but I put it in after the first 10 minutes to draw out more flavour.

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I’ve never made an omelette before so I wasn’t quite sure how to work with it.  Once they started to cook and I wasn’t pushing liquid around I started to get a feel for them.  On with the fillings!

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The cinnamon toast was easy.  Lightly toast the bread, apply margarine and a mix of cinnamon and white sugar, toast more.

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Everything came out really well.  I’m not normally an egg person but I would have this again and experiment with different fillings.

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Greater Chicken Quasedillas of Awesome +3

Back in May, I posted about some awesome chicken quasedillas I made.  I’ve made them a few times between then and now, and I’ve improved things a bit.  First, I added cayenne pepper, blending it in with the cheese.  A year ago, who would have thought I’d be adding more heat to a recipe?  I guess I’m over my dislike of spicy food.

The bigger improvement is in my cooking technique.  With all the stuff I put in these things, it frankly just doesn’t work well to go with the sandwich approach of layering tortilla shell, filling, second tortilla shell.  Observe the less-falling-out-itude while in the pan:

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Accordingly, doesn’t it look much nicer on a plate when the filling is inside the quasedilla instead of falling out?  There is still the issue, however, of simply having too much stuff in them.  The filling sometimes comes out when slicing, but maybe I just need larger shells for that.  Or less filling.  But that would decrease the level of awesome.  A big part of why these are so awesome is that there’s so much good stuff jammed into them.

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Request for Souvenir Requests

As many of you know, I am headed to Japan for 3 weeks in 9 days.  Wow, 9 days, I have a lot to do still, like learn more Japanese and pick up my last few supplies.  In any case, I’ve talked to some of my friends and have some requests.  If you want some souvenirs from Japan, please let me know so I can keep my eyes open.

Also, I turned 22 today.  Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes.  If I don’t see you before I go, I will see you when I return!


Red Jambalaya

This post is only a month overdue!  Oh well.  Way back in September, I was still cooking a bunch of new stuff up, and the latest thing worth posting about was this shrimp jambalaya I made.  So here it is!  I started with red and yellow peppers and white onion.

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To this I added tomatoes, basmati rice, cayenne pepper, thyme, and garlic.  I cannot emphasize strongly enough, use a white rice for this recipe, dark rice just doesn’t work.

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The vegetables went in first with some oil, then the rice and seasonings, let me tell you there were some real nice sizzles and aromas going on as this got going.

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Soon I added stock and let it simmer away and reduce for about half an hour.  After that I added the shrimp (the recipe calls for small pieces, so jumbo shrimp would need to be sliced up), let it sit for a few minutes to cook the shrimp, and served.

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As it turns out, I don’t like shrimp.  Still, Mom absolutely loved it.  The vegetables were good, but as I said, for this kind of dish you really need white rice.  Dark rice simply doesn’t take in the flavours the same way.  Next time I think I will try the meat-based variant in my book.


Cooking again

With the new job, I’ve been slacking on my cooking. Last Saturday I stopped being lazy about it and made a new recipe! I picked up some basmati rice and cooked it with onions, then topped it with a vegetable stir-fry and some teriyaki chicken. It didn’t work as well as I would have liked, unfortunately. It was still decent, but there were some things I need to keep in mind if I do this particular dish again.

  • The rice needs another minute or two to cook through and soften up.
  • Less onion, it overpowered the rice.
  • Mushrooms let out a ton of water while stir-frying. I shouldn’t have to drain a stir-fry.
  • More chicken.

No pictures from last week, but I’m definitely making sure to post pictures from this week. Shrimp jambalaya!


Chicken Quasedillas of Awesome +2

Potato salad didn’t work so well last week, in no small part because I used too much parsley.  Sunday night (yeah, I’m five days late in posting this), I made some chicken quasedillas, based on a recipe in the ever-useful new cookbook.  The recipe called for grated cheese, scallion, green chilis, and salsa.  I ditched the chilis, added red onion and peppers (red and yellow).  The Old Dutch southwest salsa has a nice kick to it, there’s corn, black bean, more onion, and jalapeno in there without setting my mouth on fire.  The salsa went inside, not just on the side.

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The book recipe had no chicken, but because I was making a meal out of it, I wanted to add protein.  When I was picking up the tortilla shells, I noticed a pack of “Chicken Taco” seasoning.  I thought it might be interesting to use that instead of the normal barbecue seasoning, so I picked it up.  And it really worked well.  Lately we’ve been using Cattle Boyz barbecue sauce, it’s different and absolutely delicious.  The new seasoning improved the flavours even more!  One downside, because it was in a pouch, not a shaker, it was difficult to evenly distribute on the chicken.

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After heating a skillet and putting some oil in, quasedilla construction began in the skillet.  I did them one at a time, a few minutes per side, and as they finished I put them in the oven to keep them warm while I worked on the rest.  Top left, you can see the first one made, which didn’t brown enough, but was still delicious.

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Once everything was said and done, I sliced them into quarters using a pizza cutter, and served them up.  Mom had salsa and Helluva Good dip, I ate them without any additional sides.  Mom’s the quasedilla fan in the house, and she said they were better than any restaurant quasedilla she’s ever had!  They really were delicious, quite possibly the best thing I’ve made yet out of the book.

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Parsley’s sappin’ mah salad!

Last night, I tried the potato salad recipe out of my cookbook. I made up the vinaigrette; the vinegar taste was a bit stronger than I expected but I figured it would work out in the end. The ingredients in the potato salad seemed pretty straightforward: Red potato, onion, the vinaigrette, with a number of optional things that could be added as well. I added some chopped celery. The last ingredient, and the one that seemed to wreck the flavour, was the parsley. I’ve never seen parsley used as anything other than a garnish, but this one wanted a half cup of minced fresh parsley leaves.

I don’t know what went wrong. Maybe I got a little too much stem in with the leaves. Maybe I didn’t mince finely enough. As someone who hasn’t minced before, a herb like parsley is difficult to work with. From experience dealing with brown sugar, I packed the parsley into the measuring cup until it was quite full at half a cup. When I stopped packing it in, the cup was a little over full. In any case, when I mixed everything together, the parsley overwhelmed the other ingredients and it was quite foul tasting.

When discussing this on IRC, Peter linked me to a recipe off the Food Network he normally makes, then cursed me for making him have a craving for potato salad. Mom tried some when she got home, and observed the potatoes were breaking apart. She suggested, for next time: Less vinegar, more potatoes, cook the potatoes whole before slicing them, try cilantro instead of parsley (and less of it), more celery, maybe add bacon.

Worth a try, I guess. But not right away, there are other things on my “to-cook” list. In any case, we had romaine in the fridge so I was able to make a quick Caesar up to go with the burgers instead.


Mother’s Day

How to Cook Everything strikes again!  After the successful stir-fry two weeks ago, I’m feeling pretty confident in my cooking skills.  Plus, I was behind on my plan to cook something new each week.  So, I made two new recipes for dinner tonight!  First up, the main, homemade gnocchi!  Gnocchi is basically potato and flour, but it still a challenging recipe because I don’t work with dough all that much, and when I do, it’s usually cookie dough, which doesn’t require kneading or rolling out for slicing.

First, the potatoes boiled in their skins for 45 minutes.  I know boiling potatoes aren’t the most interesting thing to look at, but I think the still of boiling water is kind of cool.

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After that, I removed their flesh (very easy, it was literally falling off) and started mashing them with flour, salt, and pepper.  I know this post is less colourful than the stir-fry post, but mashed potatoes aren’t that colourful unfortunately.

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After kneading and rolling out the dough, the I boiled the gnocchi and prepared to bake them with sauce and cheese.  Mom loves cheese, so there’s a base of gnocchi, then layers of tomato sauce, mozzarella, and finally cheddar.  As I’m getting out and cycling more, I’m less worried about the fat.

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Here’s the finished product, which was amazingly delicious.  I served it with a side Caesar salad, but that’s not exciting enough to take pictures of.  Maybe a little too much cheese, though…

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End result: Delicious and just about the right amount of sauce.  A bit starchy, of course, given the potato base, and the cheese was quite gooey, to Mom’s delight.  Parmesan was available on the side.  Not much was left after we were through with it.  Dessert was even better.  The recipe was for blueberry cobbler, but I couldn’t find any fresh blueberries, so I went with mixed berries (strawberrry and raspberry).  The raspberries added a very pleasant kick to the dish.  Here’s six cups of berries tossed with 1/2 a cup of sugar.

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While working on the crust, I had a slight mix-up with my choice of tools.  I thought I could get by with the blender, but it could not blend the necessary stick of butter in with the dry ingredients, so I had to pull out the food processor (which we thankfully had) and transfer the ingredients over.  The food processor did its job well and I had a well-blended crust batter, which I then added egg and vanilla to.

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As you can see on the right, dishes are starting to pile up in the sink.  I topped the cobbler with the crust batter, and into the oven it went!

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I wasn’t quite sure to expect, the main reason I wanted to make the cobbler, to be honest, was because I saw Guy Fieri making a delicious-looking cobbler earlier this week.  Mom’s allergic to nuts, so I couldn’t use his recipe, though I guess I could have tried substituting something for the almonds, or just leaving them out entirely.  Here’s how it turned out (the remaining gnocchi is on the right):

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There was a lot more liquid than I expected in the finished product, but it was incredibly delicious, especially after putting a little bit of vanilla ice cream on top.  It may have been even better than the gnocchi, it’s hard to say.

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So, yeah!  Ryan.mCookingSkill++;

Now I just need to figure out how to top this next week, and stay on the bike.


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