Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Arum Korean Market and the wonderful world of tabletop cooking

Beef bulgogi Korean barbecue style on Flickr by beFOODled.

S and I bought a shiny, red, gas-powered tabletop cooker from Arum Korean Market on Bank St., a vendor that has been reviewed by the Ottawa Foodies. It's my new favourite kitchen accessory and we've already used it three times this month.

Our new tabletop cooker on Flickr by beFOODled.

You know when you eat late because you are busy, lazy, not that organized or all of the above? That's the norm in our house, but the actual cooking part is so quick if you have marinated meat and condiments at the ready. Cooking your food at the table also just makes dinnertime more engaging — kind of like driving a standard versus an automatic.

Cooking beef bulgogi at the table on Flickr by beFOODled.

The cooker, as well as a six-pack of butane gas cartridges and a coated non-stick aluminum grill pan, came to about $120. The owner of Arum also sold us a big frozen package of thinly sliced beef for the bulgogi. I used this recipe for Korean barbecue.

Condiments for our Korean barbecue night on Flickr by beFOODled.

We also bought a big tub of kim chee from Arum. I think Arum might even sell the kim chee made by Restaurant Joy, the best kim chee in the city according to my friend Squeaky.

Our other condiments were sauteed shiitake mushrooms, julienned carrots and some diced pineapple, which added a nice hit of sweetness against the hot sauce and spicy kim chee.

The first day we prepped all the condiments and marinated the meat, but the next day we just grabbed all the leftovers from the fridge, turned on the gas and hey presto! We achieved the desirable conclusion of dinner :)

Arum Korean Market
512 Bank St.
Ottawa, ON K2P 1Z6

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Monday, May 18, 2009


Stracciatella soup on Flickr by beFOODled.

On Friday, S and I had lunch on a patio in Little Italy and I ordered stracciatella. It was so good and reminded me of the leek and egg drop soup that we made with Mark in Calgary.

Today, I made my own version for lunch.

Stracciatella is a Roman recipe and the word means "little rags," which refer to the shape the egg and cheese take when they are dropped into hot soup. The authentic Roman method adds semolina or flour to the egg and cheese mixture, and uses parsley. I did things a little differently and julienned some basil and spinach instead, and I made a soup base by sweating some leek and onion like we did with Mark.

serves four to six

1 leek, white and light green part, finely sliced
1/2 an onion, finely diced
6 cups chicken broth
3 eggs
lots of grated fresh parmesan cheese (I used our microplane zester for an extra-fine grate)
pinch of nutmeg
1 cup baby spinach leaves, finely sliced
6 big basil leaves, finely sliced
salt and pepper

For the croûtes
2 baguette slices per person
some grated parmesan

Add the leek and onion to some hot oil in the bottom of a stock pot. Add some salt and sweat over low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add five cups of the chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Wash, dry and julienne the spinach and basil leaves.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and parmesan together. Add the last cup of broth and the nutmeg. Stir and set aside until the leek and onion broth is boiling.

Make the croûtes. Cut the baguette into slices, two per person. Put on a baking sheet and grate some parmesan over top. Put under the broiler until golden and crispy.

Turn the leek and onion broth down to medium-low heat. Add the egg and cheese mixture in a thin stream, stirring the broth constantly with a whisk — watch for the little rags forming!

Add the spinach and basil and stir. Ladle into bowls, top with two croûtes. Garnish with more grated cheese and cracked black pepper.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Fettuccine's on Elgin St.

Fettuccine with tomato vodka sauce for two on Flickr by beFOODled.

On Friday night, I rented three movies and take-out from Fettuccine's for S and I. Fettuccine's is our neighbourhood's fresh pasta joint. (When I lived in Parkdale, I used to go to Parma Ravioli).

For unknown reasons, I always assumed that in Italy people ate fresh pasta and that dried pasta was an inferior, but non-perishable, alternative. I think it was an episode of Jamie's Great Italian Escape where Jamie Oliver said that both fresh and dried pastas are valued equally in Italy. They use dried when they want the "al dente" texture that fresh pasta can never achieve or when they want a firm texture that can stand up to hearty sauces, like a meaty bolognese. In contrast, they use fresh pasta with light sauces, for example, made with tomatoes and cream.

At Fettuccine's, I usually get fettuccine for two (plain or spinach), two tubs of tomato vodka sauce and two garlic breads. It's a great deal for only $18. The garlic bread is the best in the city — I told this to Squeaky who later investigated on her own and now concurs.

I usually cook the pasta for about eight minutes and heat up one of the tubs of vodka sauce for the two of us (the other I save for later in the week). I toss the pasta in half of the sauce, and save the other half to ladle on top. Then I add cracked black pepper and grate some fresh parmesan over top. The garlic bread is an eight-inch piece of fresh baguette with a garlicky butter spread inside. I open them up and cook them for a few minutes at 350 F and then broil them for a couple of minutes until they are golden and the edges almost charred. I am generally not good at timing but I have made this so many times everything is now ready at the same time. Booya!

The other dish I am partial to at Fettuccine's is the sun-dried tomato cappelleti. This is an antipasti salad of cheese cappelleti (looks like a hat-shaped tortellini), sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, fresh parsley, olive oil and mozzarella. It is unbelievably tasty either hot or cold and very very garlicky.

280C Elgin St.
Ottawa, ON K2P 1M2
Tel │ 613.230.4723

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Quiche Lorraine and tiramisu cake

Tiramisu cake from Loblaws on Flickr by beFOODled.

Happy Mother's Day to all. My Mom is travelling right now, which is great for her but not for me as I didn't get to see her this weekend. In her honour, let me tell you about Easter weekend at her house. She made S and I salad and cooked ham, and she served a quiche from the Bread and Butter bakery, which was delicious. (This is what Barney was trying to get in my earlier post.) And for dessert, we had a light-as-air tiramisu cake from the Loblaws bakery. I love this cake — it's so heavenly and moist, and the art deco-inspired border is beautiful. I was at Loblaws on Saturday and saw they had another one just ready and waiting for someone to take it home! Thanks Mom. Miss you, and hope you are having fun right now, wherever you are.

Quiche from the Bread and Butter bakery on Flickr by beFOODled.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Lunch with Barney

Lunch with Barney — meh, I don't care about quiche on Flickr by beFOODled.

Lunch with Barney — is he onto me? on Flickr by beFOODled.

Lunch with Barney — having a closer look on Flickr by beFOODled.

Lunch with Barney — up with the paw on Flickr by beFOODled.

Barney is my Mom's cat. He thinks he's human, likes human food, and sits at the table with the adults. Unlike adults, however, Barney has no table manners. The sequence above shows the events that usually unfold during a lunch with Barney. He pretends he's not interested in your food, then he looks at you, then he moves in a little closer, and then up with the paw! If you are not careful, that paw will try to grab your quiche and whatever else Barney fancies on your plate.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Rogan josh

Rogan josh on Flickr by beFOODled.

This is my Dad's recipe for rogan josh, a mild lamb curry that originated in Kashmir.

I've read different explanations for what rogan josh means. One of my cookbooks says the fat that slowly separates from the meat during cooking is called the rogan and the deep red colour is the josh. Wikipedia says something totally different.

We used boneless leg of lamb because that's what we had, but lamb shoulder or neck are actually better for this dish — they are tougher cuts but impart a richer flavour and stay moister during slow cooking than leg meat does. As an added bonus, shoulder and neck cuts are also cheaper!

Boneless leg of lamb for rogan josh on Flickr by beFOODled.

We made this for several guests and cooked almost 2 kilograms of lamb, which can serve about 12 people. If you want to serve only four people, buy closer to 500 grams of lamb instead.

Rogan josh

In the marinating tupperware

2 kg lamb meat
1 onions
fresh coriander
sherry or red wine
lemon husk

Marinade sauce
Spices and herbs: whole fenugreek, turmeric, cumin, coriander, paprika, cloves, black pepper, thyme, Italian seasoning
juice of one lemon
a spoonful of tandoori paste
three tablespoons yoghurt
one tablespoon rice wine vinegar
one tablespoon oil

Day of cooking
one onion
big can of chopped tomatoes
tomato puree
chopped green onion or fresh coriander for garnish

Finely dice one of the onions. Add to a large tupperware or bowl big enough to marinate the meat.

Cut the lamb into biggish pieces — cubes bigger than bite-sized hold their flavour better — and add to the tupperware.

Preparing marinade for rogan josh on Flickr by beFOODled.

Mix the ingredients for the marinade in a separate bowl — whole fenugreek, turmeric, cumin, coriander, paprika, cloves, black pepper, thyme, Italian seasoning, lemon juice, a spoonful of tandoori paste, three tablespoons yoghurt and one tablespoon each of rice wine vinegar and oil.

Marinating rogan josh on Flickr by beFOODled.

Add fresh coriander, the lemon husk from the marinade and sherry or red wine to the meat in the tupperware. Mix everything in the marinade, cover and refrigerate overnight. You can also marinate for few hours if that's all you have time for.

The next day, heat some oil in a large saucepan, stock pot or cast-iron pot. Dice the second onion and add it to the pan. Fry until translucent. Add the meat and cook for about five minutes, stirring often. Stir in a large can of chopped tomatoes, a bit of tomato puree and cover and simmer over low heat for about one hour.

Serve garnished with some finely chopped green onion or fresh coriander sprinkled over top.

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