Tag Archives: Ingredients

The G20 Series:United Kingdom

27 Jun

by Stephanie Dickison

I am half British, so it makes sense that I get to write this post.

Though it took me awhile to appreciate the food.  I mean, it can seem a bit boiled and gray, especially for my Mom, Grandma and Great Grandma.  They didn’t have Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsey or my own personal hero, Nigel Slater, to help them along.

They also didn’t have the immense ingredients available to them.  In fact, my Grandmother and to this day my Mom still has a bit of the rationing mentality leftover.  You should see the cans piled up at my parent’s place.  There are just some things that tattoo themselves on you.  Having enough cans to survive on for a good year or two is my Mom’s ink of choice.

Growing up, I never had Marmite or trifle, but I did occasionally have Bubble & Squeak and lots of Liver & Onions (which I love and which is hugely popular in the UK).

Strangely enough, the most popular food in the UK is curry, thanks to the vast Indian population.  And high end food is what you’ll get when eating out**, aside from the fish and chip shops.

The most confusing part of British food perhaps, is the terminology:

Fries are chips, and potato chips are crisps.  A popsicle is a lolly, bangers are sausages and rasher is bacon.  And just to confuse our Texas friends, biscuits are not those breakfast ones that you cover in gravy every morning, but cookies.  They call shrimp prawns and rutabagas swedes.

And that’s just a few of them.

Beans on Toast is comforting to me in the way that I think most people feel comforted by ice cream or a glass or warm milk.  It makes me think of my Mom and how she’s spent her whole life loving me unconditionally.

The recipe above is not how my Mom made it.  I think she took a can of baked beans, heated them up in a pan, while she made whole wheat toast and then poured the beans on top.

See?  Food doesn’t have to be fancy to be good.

** When in the UK, say take away instead of take out.  You’ll save yourself a lot of time and trouble…

The G20 Series: Russia

15 Jun

by Stephanie Dickison

I love the fact that Russian cooking includes a lot of cuisines.

In The Best of Russian Cooking by Alexandra Kropotkin, soups not only get their own section, it’s early on in the cookbook, which isn’t always the case with North American cookbooks.  I like to believe this is because they place a lot of importance on them.

I also love that there are a ton of both cold and hot soups available.

According to Wikipedia:

“Russian soups can be divided into at least seven large groups:

  • Chilled soups based on kvass, such as tyurya, okroshka, and botvinya.
  • Light soups and stews based on water and vegetables.
  • Noodle soups with meat, mushrooms, and milk.
  • Soups based on cabbage, most prominently shchi.
  • Thick soups based on meat broth, with a salty-sour base like rassolnik and solyanka.
  • Fish soups such as ukha.
  • Grain- and vegetable-based soups.”

Over at Yulinka Cooks, Julia in Wisconsin gives you the low down on Borsch with her Borsch 2.0 entry (note there is no “t” in hers).

I like the decoding of Uzbek Soup in Anna’s Recipe Box.

Schi, a traditional Russian soup, might sound a little hearty for this warm weather, but I say give it a try.

If you live in Seattle, you can learn to make Russian soups like a pro.  But since you probably don’t, you can make some of the soups from The Food and Cooking of Russia by Lesley Chamberlain, discover Russian Food Culture and learn to read Russian menus.

And on your way to Russia, shop here for your authentic ingredients.

In the meantime, Clear Russian Fish Soup with Lime and Dill sounds delightful:

* 8 cups fish stock, clarify

* 1 pound white fish fillets, sliced into 6 serving pieces (salmon fillets are also excellent)

* 6 paper thin slices of lime

* 1 Tablespoon finely cut fresh dill leaves

Bring stock to a boil in a large saucepan. Lower in the fish fillets and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 3-4 minutes–until the fish is just opaque. Carefully lift the fish out and put into flat soup bowls. Pour hot stock on top, squeeze a little lime juice into each bowl, float a thin lime slice on top, and sprinkle with dill. Serve at once.

The G20 Series: Japan

10 Jun

by Stephanie Dickison

Japanese is just about one of the only cuisines I could have every day for the rest of my life.

I like that there are so many aspects to it.  We North Americans are taken with sushi, sashimi and maki, but in Japan there are noodle houses, dumpling houses, tempura delicacies as well as many unusual ingredients from the sea.

You can search for Japanese restaurants outside of Japan to find out where to get authentic Japanese dishes near you and The Japanese Food Report offers lots of pictures and videos.

My favourite Japanese restaurant in Toronto is Daio Sushi (45 Calton St. 416-260-2116 ) which unfortunately doesn’t have a website.  Daio is family-run and really authentic – there are rice paper walls and the servers dress in kimonos.

What it great about Daio is that it is not fancy, so you can go with a group of friends and feel comfortable, and it is not expensive, especially when you consider the ingredients and preparation.

They have items on the menu that many “sushi joints” pass over in favour of cream cheese-filled rolls and other Americanized plates.  Torigarage is deep-fried dark meat chicken served in pieces, Japanese style.  This is the kind of treat you would find in an izakaya in Japan.

Sukiyaki and Shabu Shabu are also available.  These are Japanese hot pots that are incredibly delicious and oh-so filling!

Your server brings out not only the homemade broth and all of the fresh, thinly sliced ingredients, but the heavy  cast iron pot and table-top element to cook it all in.  It says that it serves 2, but 3 or 4 could easily tuck into this lovely dinner.

And if you can’t resist getting makimono or sushi and sashimi, choose some of the more interesting selections that Daio offers, such as Burdock (Yamagobou maki) and Sea Urchin (Uni temaki hand roll).

To make authentic Japanese fare at home, try:

Harumi’s Japanese Home Cooking: Simple, Elegant Recipes for Contemporary Tastes by Harumi Kurihara

Izakaya: The Japanese Pub Cookbook by Mark Robinson and Masashi Kuma

Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen by Elizabeth Andoh

どうぞめしあがれ or Douzo Meshiagare – “Enjoy your meal!”

Monday Review: Gourmet Smarts

14 Jul

Monday Review

Every Monday, we’ll be reviewing books, cookbooks and products and anything that has to do with food.

We hope you’ll join us in discovering new recipes and ways of cooking, along with gadgets and accessories in order to make our food taste better and perhaps get it to the table a little more quickly.

Monday Review: Gourmet Smarts

By Stephanie Dickison

I love food trivia games, though sadly I usually end up playing them myself.

However, this unintimidating question and answer card game is the perfect way to bring people together, have fun and learn a little about different foods and cultures.

The game is nicely designed and easy to follow. There are 100 question and answer cards in the following four categories:

Lingo – Food terms you’ll find on even the most challenging menus
Ingredients – Meat and fish, fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices
Cuisines – Ethnic and regional foods and famous dishes
Wild Card – Tasty morsels of food history and trivia

There is a score pad and companion guide, complete with a pronunciation page (if you think you won’t need it, think again).

There are easy questions and more difficult ones.

My fella played with me to try it out and ended up getting more questions right than I did! A lot of the questions about the history of certain foods and what country first came up with tempura (you’ll have to play the game to find out!) completely stumped me. When it came to ingredients and lingo though, I held my own. Thank goodness. After all, what kind of restaurant critic and food writer would I be if I couldn’t at least tell you about mirepoix and duck breasts?

I think this would be a great after dinner or party game to play with family, friends and neighbours. It is informative, but not so much so that it’s boring (though I wish some of the answers were shorter!) and I think it would be best played while snacking on food, because it sure does make you hungry!