Sunday, April 20, 2014

Chinese BBQ Pork

It's Easter, and I'm treating myself to a new dish! I recently bought Hoisin sauce and I didn't really know how to use it, but S gave me a great idea: BBQ pork! Char siu is one of the most popular and succulent Chinese dishes, and it usually comes sliced (cold or room temperature) or in fluffy steamed buns. I had a couple blocks of pork in the freezer, and I was so excited to try making some.

Here is the recipe I have adapted. This takes some marinating, so make sure you have some time on your hands. There was a lot of marinade left, so if you are working with 2-3 pounds of pork, it should still be fine. Although the original recipe calls for honey, I replaced it with maple syrup for that Canadian flair.

Chinese BBQ Pork

- 2 lbs pork
- 2 cloves garlic (mashed) or 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp Chinese rice wine
- 2 tbsp Hoisin sauce
- 2 tbsp tomato sauce
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp sugar

1. Cut pork into strips of approximately 2 inches wide, 5 inches long, and 1 inch tall.
2. Combine all other ingredients and mix well. 
3. Marinate for approximately 3 hours. Reserve the marinade
4. Heat oven to 350˚F. Fill a large baking dish with 1/2 inch of water, and place on the lower rack. Place the pork directly on the upper rack.
5. Bake for 45 minutes. Every 10 minutes, remove the pork and brush on a new layer of marinade. 
6. Remove, cool, and enjoy!

I enjoyed mine with a big bowl of noodles. The tender pork was immensely juicy, and its natural sweetness combined with the rich flavour of the marinade made for a lovely treat. I felt like a fat happy cat after slurping down this meal. 

And fresh hot brownies for dessert! Happy Easter, everybody!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

McGill Anime Club Maid Café 2014

Today M and I went a Maid Café, courtesy of the McGill Anime Club. I had seen the event on Facebook and was excited for this all week. The only other time we'd been to similar events is during Otakuthon, and those have always involved overpriced bad quality food and bubble tea with icky tapioca bubbles. Don't get me wrong, it's still a lot of fun, but it makes you yearn for better.

So we arrived at the site of the event, plenty hungry because we had both starved ourselves in order to gorge on tasty japanese-esque food. There was a short line, but we waited -- I don't know how long, it felt like hours of hunger, but it was probably closer to 30 minutes. The venue was small, maybe fitting 30-40 people, and they can't exactly kick people out. Eventually, we did get in, and we were greeted by ALL the maids and butlers. Eeek, awkward! As we were seated, our maid informed us of The Rules. Mainly, don't take pictures of people without permission and don't grope people. She also asked us what we wanted to be called. I was Fluffycat, and M got to be Commander Lazer Rocket. He specifically informed me that it's spelled "Lazer", because "it's edgier".

We ordered from the cutest menu ever, and proceeded to wait. And wait. And wait. This is going to be a recurring theme.

After more hunger, our main dishes came! Before the appetizers! But who cares, our Bunbun Croquette Sandwiches (7$) looked divine! I got a bear? rabbit? some sort of creature drawn in ketchup. M got Pedobear with a heart, hehehe. The croquettes were patties of mashed potato mixed with a little ground beef, then deepfried to perfection. Warm and soft, they acted as a great core to the sandwich.

In the middle of devouring our sandwiches, a couple of sides showed up in giant bowls. Apparently these were included with the main dish. Miso soup with tofu and seaweed, though you can't see them, and a light salad drizzled with a very nice dressing. Not quite sure what that was, and still too hungry to care, but they should use it again next year.

After our bowls and dishes were whisked away, we waited some more, and eventually our drinks showed up. M got his first, the Goku's Sparkin' (3$). It was a nice citrus soda, possibly orange and mango juice with club soda. Quite tasty! Mine came maybe 10 minutes later, the Bittersweet First Lime (2$), which was neither bitter nor sweet (also, I just understood the pun). It was a great limeade, with club soda as well.

So after that, M got his Tuna Onigiri (1.50$), and we didn't bother to take a picture. After more waiting, our maid asked us what we'd like for dessert. To which M answered, "I want the chicken curry." I had already ordered previously, and she let me know. Well, after some time, she came back to inform us that they had ran out of chicken curry, so M asked for the same dessert as me. Immediately, my dish came.

My Ichigo Crème Crêpe (4$)! Two lovely soft egg crêpes folded with slices strawberries and whipped cream, drizzled with dark chocolate sauce. Most of the cream had melted, but it was still a great dessert at an amazing price. At a restaurant, this would be at least 11$... I had a fantastic time eating this.

While M waited further for his crêpe, my onigiri appetizer finally showed up. I can't eat regular tuna so I got the Original Onigiri (1$). It was warm and chewy and the seasoning was ok but it tasted sooooo good because i really do like onigiris. I'm going to make some. 

So then we waited and waited some more, until our maid came over and told us that there were no more Ichigo Crêpes left. Ha! Thank goodness I got mine in time. Anyway, we were really bored and tired of this place at this point, so we paid and bailed. 

Although there was an awful lot of waiting involved, and the staff looked super disorganized, this was still a really fun experience! Now it's just 4 months until Otakuthon! 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

2014 Winter Storm, Before and After

We had a storm! Here is Lele and Bearbear chilling during the evening, when the storm had just begun.

Just got out, enjoying some fast winds. 
Already some powder on the ground and flying about.
"I sits where it is soft."
They had a squabble, and he escaped to the deck. 
Bear refused to take pictures, and preferred to trot around making sure everything in the yard was in order.
The next day, the storm settled around noon, and the sun finally came out. It was actually nice again!

Snow is tasty.
Contemplating universal truths. 
She let me take loads of pictures to make up for the day before.
Lele doesn't bite her back most of the time. He usually prefers to run away. 
And she usually wins. 
I threw a snowball and they went off trying to find it and eat it.
That's all, folks!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Hearty Chilli

During the well-deserved March Break last week, I hosted a small get-together, and by that I mean an anime marathon slash potluck. I made chilli, because I haven't had it in a while and it's barely any effort. Originally, I was complaining that it cost over 10$ to make, but I shut my mouth when I realized exactly how much food I was winding up with. 

I adapted George's recipe to my liking and my pantry. The beauty of chilli is that you don't have to follow specifics at all, just toss in any sort of beans and tomato-based product in there and it will probably taste great.

I used a pound and a half of ground beef, about two cups of chopped onions, and went generous with the spices. I don't actually have chilli powder or cayenne pepper, so I used a blend of paprika, pepper flakes, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, and just a touch of nutmeg. It turned out super well. 

Browned the beef, and opened up some cans! Two cans of kidney beans (black and white for fun), one large can of crushed tomato, and one small can of tomato paste. Layer all that on top of each other in your pot or slow-cooker, and add a few cups of water. I wound up with two pots worth, so I cooked it both ways. On the stove, it's high heat until it boils, then low heat for an hour and a half. On the slow cooker, low for 8-10 hours. You'll wake up to a house that smells like the tastiest place on the world. Just don't sleep with the burner on. 

Ta-da! Two batches of chilli, gone way too fast. One of these days, I will make another pot. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Roast Chicken

I recently made my first roast chicken, and here's my second attempt. 

I went a bit fancy this time, and bought some fresh thyme in advance. I've never cooked with herbs before, so I had no idea what I was doing. As per M's advice, I mixed that aromatic herb with some dehydrated parsley and oregano, but then I was at a loss... Herbs go under the skin? Wha?

I had no idea chicken skin was so elastic. Streeeetch! 

The skin took a discouragingly long time, but I eventually got the hang of it and finished. Time to stuff the cavity! More herbs, salt, lemon slices, and crushed garlic cloves.  

Our girl is all oiled up, seasoned, and ready to go!

Breast side up on the pan.

Over an hour later... Oh my lord. I put some vegetables to roast about halfway through... It looks glorious. And it tasted even better. My first (knowing) experience with thyme was a success!

And puppies are jealous of me.