fontas food

eating my way through suburbia

Saturday, August 28, 2004

I've moved!!!

We've decided to consolidate some of our websites and interests on a single site. That means I have combined my two blogs into one. The new blogging software allows me to categorise entries and then you can display only the posts of specific categories (how cool is that?).

So, here is the new food blog!

Enjoy!

Monday, August 23, 2004

After reading about rice-cooker congee on eGullet, I decided I'd give it a go. I haven't had congee since moving to California five years ago (believe me, I've asked for it too!) so was looking forward to the experiment.

I started out with 3/4 cup of uncooked basmati rice (3 points). That went into the rice cooker along with about 2 cups of chicken broth and 4 cups of water. Then I just turned it on and left for a while.

After 30 minutes, I added some white pepper and some salt. I was out of the other things I would normally have added (like fresh ginger) so I decided to keep it simple and not add anything else (no meat or other ingredients).

The initial 3/4 cup of rice made 9 ladles-ful of congee.

For serving, I ladled two scoops into my bowl, topped with green onions, and some sambal olek.



After I took the picture, I decided to add some "krab" for an additional point. All told, this lunch set me back 3 points.

It wasn't as good as the congee at the Lakeview Restaurant in Burnaby (my favourite congee haunt) but, for a first attempt, it was pretty tasty.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Well, I'm back from my trip back east and am hoping I didn't go too hogwild whilst there...

The Spouse made dinner tonight (which was wonderful for me, as I'm still getting used to the time difference); the entire meal was 9 points.

The day before I left for Connecticut, I went to the farmers' market in Davis with a friend, where I bought some wild king salmon. I vacuum-packed it and stuck it in the freezer that very night. Wayde built dinner around one of these fillets.

First, he made a marinade/sauce of 1 T. mayonnaise, 1 T. sriracha sauce, and 1 T. low-Na soy sauce. Here they are, ready to go on the grill:



To go with the salmon, he made a salad of Israeli couscous, dried cranberries, and leftover vegetables from last night's dinner:



The dressing was made of vinegar, sweet chili sauce, and a dribble of sesame oil.

The veggie side was twice-cooked long beans (first steamed and then stir-fried with some garlic):



I reckon the salmon was 5 points (each piece weighed in at just under 4 oz. when cooked), the salad was 3 points (serving size was about 2/3 cup), and the beans were worth 1 point (because of the stir-frying).

Garnished with some chilled cucumber slices to offset the heat of the salad and the salmon:



Yum!

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

This evening, Marge and I took a trip to the farmers' market in Davis. It was (apparently) a little smaller than the Saturday morning market but that's understandable.

I didn't pick up too much stuff, since I'm heading out for Connecticut on Friday. I did get some fruit: white nectarines, Asian pears, and an Ambrosia cantaloupe. I will cut all the fruit up, mix it into a Glad plastic container, and take it with me on the flight. I'm sure it will be leaps and bounds beyond the airplane food. :-)

I also bought four pieces of salmon (wild king, caught in Bodega Bay). I've put that in the freezer and am hoping it will still be there when I get back from CT. It will make a nice grilled dinner for the NAWRA Nationals next month.

My other purchase was a pack of pork chops...four 1.25"-thick chops. They also went in the freezer. They'll be brined and grilled when I get home (or, maybe tomorrow night!).

My big thrill for the week is that I finally got up the nerve to post something about Weight Watchers on eGullet . Turns out that there are a number of folk there who are also following the programme and so now I have more like-minded cooks to talk to about things. Yippee!

Tonight's dinner was from a vendor at the market: a skewer of grilled salmon (it was absolutely outstanding!) and mixed greens tossed with a vinaigrette. I found the salad to be slightly over-dressed so I guess I'll have to count it as 2 points. The salmon was probably worth about 4 or 5 points (the book says 7 points for 6 oz. but this wasn't 6 oz.).

Even with the Skinny Cow I had when I got home, I didn't eat enough points today. Hope that doesn't screw me up for weigh-in tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Yesterday, friends from home (Vancouver) arrived for a couple of days and we spent our first hours together partaking in one of our favourite meals...hot pot.

As far as points go, I'm really not sure. Maybe someone with the eTools access can run it through the points builder.

Here are the ingredients for 8 people:



Vegetables:
* baby bok choy
* pea shoots
* sui choy
* cilantro

Fish & Seafood:
* fish balls (12 oz)
* shrimp balls (12 oz)
* prawns (8 oz)

Meat & Other Protein:
* lean pork (12 oz)
* chicken (8 oz)
* tofu (8 oz)

Noodles:
* rice noodles (2.5 lbs)

You can also see our sauces in that photo: Kai's "special sauce" (cooked oil--not much in deference to the WWs crowd, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and green onions), sambal olek, sweet chili sauce, and oyster sauce. Also a little dish of chopped green onions for anyone who wanted them as a garnish.

Here is the table before we started cooking:



We'd started the broth out with a little flavour by boiling some pork neck bones on the stove while we were getting all the ingredients together. Then the stock pot goes on the tabletop burner and ingredients are added, a bit at a time:



Once the first batch is cooked, it is removed from the pot and put in the "community bowl". This bowl is then passed around the table, with all diners helping themselves.



I had a very sad flash card corruption and these were four of the five photos that were recovered. (Thank God Kai is an ├╝bertech!) What is missing is a photo of the first batch of noodles coming out of the pot, my first bowl of food, and the finishing touch to the meal...the broth.

Once all the ingredients have been eaten, the broth (by this time, very flavourful) is ladled out into the bowls.

I wish all the photos had been recoverable but I'm still very happy that even these few could be shared. This is a fabulous meal, especially when shared with great friends...no added fat, no added salt. Just healthy eating that tastes good!

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Today's dinner was inspired by the farmer's market. One of the vendors there had nothing but heirloom tomatoes. Now, how could I pass that by? I bought 2 pounds of tomatoes (a mix of the different varieties) and a red onion. Together, they would be a salad.



Wayde saw a butternut squash at the market and decided that he would make homemade ravioli, stuffed with a mixture of roasted butternut squash, veal, and cheese, for dinner.

Here are the squash pieces "roasting" on the grill (it's way too hot to put the oven on!):



For the other ingredients, he chopped up 1/2 lb. of veal stew meat and some green onions. That was combined with the squash (mashed after fully cooking) and 1/2 cup partly-skim ricotta cheese:



Feel free to use ground veal instead of the hand-chopped meat. I bet ground pork would be tasty too.

For the salad, I chopped up the tomatoes and gently mixed them together in a bowl, adding very thinly-sliced red onion. The salad was dressed with the juice of 1/2 a lime (perhaps 1 Tablespoon?) and 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. After seasoning with salt and pepper, it was ready!



Look at all those colours!

Why buy heirloom tomatoes? Well, because they taste better! The flavour and aroma of these tomatoes remind me of eating ripe tomatoes right off the vine in my grandmother's garden. No supermarket tomato can compete. Those tomatoes were developed with only this in mind: they can be transported and they last a long time in the grocery store. Flavour has nothing to do with their marketability!

Heirloom tomatoes are old varieties and so have none of those "features". They need to be eaten soon after picking and they bruise easily. In fact, at the market today, I got a lesson in how to tell if they are ripe. The vendor saw me squeezing one and came over to show me how to check for ripeness, without bruising the fruit. Hold the tomato in the palm of your hand and just rub the skin with your thumb. If the skin feels firm, the tomato is ripe.

They might cost more (the vendor told me that they lose 30% of their harvest to bruising from being squeezed at the market) but the flavour is beyond compare. Believe me, they are well worth the money!

And while I've been singing the praises of heirloom tomatoes, Wayde has been busy making pasta. Now, before anyone gets scared away by the idea of making their own pasta, I will say that it would be just as yummy to use won ton wrappers to make homemade ravioli. So, don't be thinking this is too hard to make! You can buy won ton wrappers in your produce section!

Here is the dough all nicely rolled out:



Wayde used whole wheat flour for this batch.

And here he is filling the "ravioli":



And one after it's been filled:



In case you're wondering, we like the large, somewhat rustic looking stuffed pastas...

The "ravioli" were cooked by gently boiling them (very gently...remember, fresh pasta is more fragile than dried). To finish it off, they were topped with 1 Tablespoon of toasted pine nuts and 2/3 Tablespoon browned butter.



Points tally?

ravioli: 6
pine nuts: 2
browned butter: 2
salad: 1

For a total of 11 points! Wow!





Saturday, August 07, 2004

We had the most fabulous steak salad for dinner. Oh my but it was tasty. First, the picture...



It started with a bagged salad mix of different greens (mostly leaf lettuce but also some arugula, frisee, and radicchio). Added to that was some thinly-sliced cucumber, celery, green onions, tomatoes, and peppers (red, orange, and yellow).

That was topped with about 4 oz. of grilled beef tenderloin. The tenderloin was seasoned with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper and then grilled as a roast. It was sliced just before serving. (And yes, I like mine blue rare...)

Served with grilled squash slices (my most favourite way to eat summer squash!) and chilled Chinese long beans (steamed and then chilled).

The salad was dressed with Consorzio Raspberry and Balsamic Vinegar Dressing. (0 points, btw!)

The entire pointage?

A whopping SEVEN!!!!

Does it get any better than this? ... I think not!