Battle of Ingredients #1: Carrots and Noodles

It is finally here!
A new segment with Phoebe from Starry Traveler’s Road!
Thanks so much for joining us!

Battle of Ingredients

INTRODUCTION – What is Battle of Ingredients?

Battle of Ingredients (name subject to future change maybe) is the brainchild of myself and Phoebe who really love to talk about tons of things but our families have somewhat become foodie buddies. We talk food a lot and go to restaurants even more but we each have our food restrictions and our habits and with this Battle of Ingredients, we have two goals.

One: we want to learn more about the Quebec foods through different seasons which will be a huge focus on how we pick our ingredients.
Two: To expand and explore new recipes and ways to cook as well as try out new ingredients.

However, we do also want to say that this is a battle of ingredients but we use the word ‘battle’ loosely because we aren’t actually battling each other. Our judges are family and close friends and they offer us suggestions on how to improve our recipes. Its more the challenge of figuring out a good way to incorporate the selected ingredients. There will be times, like the next one, where we will be working together to put together a meal with the next selected seasonal ingredients which will be announced at the end of this post.

Battle of Ingredients #1: Carrots & Noodles

The first challenge is a simple one. We wanted something that we could use readily, plus carrots are about the best looking vegetable available at our supermarkets now. The meat is free to our choosing and noodles is for a nice carbs base that everyone gets a good energy boost. Two noodle dishes are heavy so we served them in moderate portions.

PHOEBE’S MENU
Homey Osso Bucco with Udon

Osso Bucco

Homey Osso Bucco with Udon

I know Kim wanted to try osso bucco and it is freezing outside thanks to Canadian winter, so I decided to cook this dish as part of the cook-off. This is one of my mom’s thermal cooker recipes that I managed to replicate with some adaptations over the years.

Given I had to prepare more portions than usual, I had a hard time putting numbers on the quantities of ingredients.

  • Osso bucco
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Sweet onions (normal onions are okay, but I prefer sweet ones)
  • Bay leaves
  • Chicken stock (powder)
  • Water
  • Udon

Instructions:

1. Wash the osso bucco and put in the inner pot.
2. Wash and chop all the veggies to your desired size (please note if it is too little, veggies will disintegrate into the soup). Put in the inner pot on top of the meat (I usually cut carrots first because they are bulky when compared to celery and onions).
3. Wash the bay leaf and put into the inner pot (I always prefer 2-3 in my cooking).
4. Pour water into the inner pot and make sure it covers the meat and veggies.
5. Boil it until it starts bubbling and add chicken powder to taste (One thing that I noticed if you are cooking more portions than usual, you may need to reboil to ensure the osso bucco is thoroughly cooked).
6. Boil it a bit longer and put the inner pot into the vacuum insulated cooker.
7. Let it cook over night.

While my family usually eat this with rice, I prefer udon after doing a lot of testing in dorms. My mom used to vacuum seal some with veggies so I can enjoy it while doing my assignments. I remember trying rice vermicelli, egg noodles, pasta and udon. Rice vermicelli got soggy really quickly while egg noodles held themselves a little better. Pasta was okay, but udon stood out for remaining bouncy when it took me a little while to finish dinner.

That is pretty much it for my recipe. Hope you enjoy it! 😊

KIM’S MENU
Chicken Rice Noodles with Carrots and Cucumbers

Chicken Rice Noodles

Chicken Rice Noodles with Carrots and Cucumbers

Unlike Phoebe, my recipe is somewhat of a combination of a few things I like making. I did end up forgetting something in this one and our judges definitely did realize even if I don’t honestly mind that much.  Here are the ingredients I used:

  • Rice Noodles
  • Nantes Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Eggs
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Chicken Thighs
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Green onions
  • Soy Sauce
  • Sesame Oil

How to make it:

1. In a bowl, mix together sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar and garlic. Set aside.
2. Prepare the chicken. Cut the chicken lengthwise and mix with the marinade above.
3. Boil water in a saucer. When it starts to boil, put in the rice noodles to cook. Place in for few minutes. Remove and put in strainer. Rinse with cold water. Rest strainer on a bowl to let water drain.
4. Peel the carrots and cucumbers and chop them lengthwise (or however you like them that makes it easier to cook). Mince the garlic and chop the ginger.
5. Heat up the wok on medium-high heat. Put in some oil (sesame, olive, whichever you use; I used avocado oil) and let it heat up.
6. Put in some garlic and ginger into the wok. Afterwards, add the carrots and cucumbers. Let them cook through and remove on plate.
7. If you need, add a little bit of oil to the wok and cook the scrambled eggs.
8. Next, cook the chicken with marinade as sauce.
9. Once its cooked through, add back the eggs, carrots and cucumbers. Let it cook a little more and add the noodles to heat everything back up.
10. Remove from heat and put in plate.

COMMENTS FROM FRIENDS (AKA TASTERS)

Phoebe’s Osso Bucco was cooked thoroughly and enough time. The only comment was on the choice of using the Udon noodles and that dials down to a personal preference.

Kim’s Chicken Rice Noodles was cooked well however it was on the more bland side. Something that Kim suspected out of her eating habits and the fact that she forgot to use broth. The suggestion was to use chicken broth to add some natural flavor instead of using salt and it would help infuse the meal overall.

This concludes our first BATTLE OF INGREDIENTS!
Hope you enjoyed it!

The next battle will be held next month as a collaborated full course meal featuring MAPLE SYRUP!
Right in time for cabane a sucre season!

Recap: Miss Fresh #8

Another Miss Fresh is here! Having a box arrive after a trip is usually a great way except I forgot how busy I was going to be. Thankfully, my husband helped out to with making a good few of these dishes so excuse the pictures for not being plated exactly as I would however the star of the meals are all there, except for one. We didn’t get a picture of the first meal we made. The next box is coming soon since April is a somewhat busy month and I’ve caught up with a lot of things.

Let’s check out the meals!

Miss Fresh #8

Miss Fresh

Tandoori Vegetable Naan-Wich

Let’s start with the first meal that was made quite out of place of how I’d make these meals since I usually put the vegetable ones as the later ones. However, its all good since due to the ingredients, my husband was the only one that could eat this one. He made it and had it. I can’t say he’s a fan because I believe a portion of it is still sitting in the fridge. However, he did add his own twist to it by adding some protein in the form of scrambled eggs.

Citrusy Herbed Chicken Legs

Miss Fresh

The star of this box has to be this meal! Perhaps, I’m a little biased since I soon came to realize there was a lot of adaptation with the other two meals to work around my intolerance so my husband ate most of it. Funny enough, he cooked this one up. Now, I love chicken so this was a winner already. The best part of this meal had to go to learning a new way of making sweet potatoes for dinner using lemon. It had this fantastic sweet and sour sort of element and just tasted so awesome.

Sausage and Vegetable Stuffed Mushrooms

Miss Fresh

Look at these cute little stuffed mushrooms. Miss Fresh boxes was the first to introduce how to make these stuffed mushrooms and I was excited about it being a part of this box. Of course, I have been so busy and tired that I ended up garnishing all four of the mushrooms with cheese so means, its down to my husband, the mushroom-hating person to take care of it. To my surprise, he liked it a lot. Guess this is how we’re introducing more veggies into our meals from now on. This is paired up with pesto pasta which was made separately afterwards but was not photographed. Sorry about that. A huge thank you to Miss Fresh this time for adding an extra little plastic bag for the pesto so avoid the spillage mess that I had in a previous box. I’m glad to see improvements and thoughts made every single time. 🙂

Coconut Beef Curry

Miss Fresh

Finally, the last meal is the Coconut Beef Curry with a side of Jasmine Rice. This smelled so good while it was cooking and other than the simmering time being longer and maybe preparation, it was relatively easy to make. Although, we did do this one as a collaborated effort since I’m not too good with cooking beef so my husband took over the duties. Although in the end, because I decided to keep in the Thai chili and it would be spicy that it is also my husband’s dinner.

Overall…probably a lack of judgement on my part for this box but its always nice to still get some good meals out of the box. The meals themselves were pretty good even if I couldn’t taste them. They surprisingly expanded my husband’s liking for certain vegetables which is always a good thing. With the help of this box, we can now make mushrooms for everyone. That’s pretty awesome since I have portobello mushroom cravings every little while.

What meals appeal to you from this box? What do you think?

Unboxing & Recap: Miss Fresh #7

Two months has gone by since I’ve ordered a Miss Fresh box! Wow!

We are working on cooking meals more and totally enjoying it. There’s also the factor of having meals that appealed to us. This box really worked for that. Let’s take a look!

Kung Pao Shrimps
with Calrose Rice

Miss Fresh

Kung Pao Shrimps

Kung Pao Shrimps was good. I’m not exactly sure about using Calrose Rice. Its okay, not my favorite. However, it is a simple and balanced meal even if it lacked a bit of spice. There is quite a bit of preparation for this one with a lot of cooking. Anything with a lot of chopping usually takes more time for myself just because I’m incredibly clumsy so take much more time to do it.

Chicken Marbella
served with couscous and spinach

Miss Fresh

Chicken Marbella 

Chicken Marbella is an interesting recipe. I mean this in the best way. While I’m not a huge fan of the couscous and I cooked the spinach which was supposed to be a salad, the highlight is the chicken itself being paired with dried prunes and green olives. I’m not exactly a fan of olives but this combination worked together really well. It takes a little longer, and was listed as more than 30 minutes to make and that is because the chicken needs to go into the oven for thirty minutes or something. I can’t remember as I don’t have the recipe in front of me.

Ginger Turkey Meatballs
on a bed of Sesame Noodles

Miss Fresh

Ginger Turkey Meatballs 

I love sesame noodles. The sauce they make here is very delicious. The meatballs have turmeric and curry spices so it has a spicy taste to it, along with some veggies, this ginger turkey meatballs is really good and quite easy to make. It has sparked a desire to stock up on sesame noodles. Beware for smelling like curry and onions though. I cooked this one morning and I had to change afterwards.

Zucchini and Corn Quesadillas
with Pesto

Miss Fresh

Zucchini and Corn Quesadillas 

The meal in the box that only my husband could eat, however was quite the blast to make except its crazy with all the chopping. Its chopping up jalapeno and green peppers and then there is an ear of corn to strip off the kernels. Aside from the chopping, its easy to put together and a vegetarian meal solution. Even with that, my husband enjoyed it.

Overall…Ginger Turkey Meatballs and Chicken Marbella are the stars of this box. I loved those two recipes a lot. I’m hoping to see more sesame noodles added into the meals eventually. There’s not much to say because everything was fresh and the box was delivered safely and securely as usual.

Dinner: Pork Tenderloin Roast

Time for another recipe time! Today its all about dinner.

Last week’s new recipe tryout was for a Pork Loin Roast. We don’t tend to make loin roast, just because they take a long cooking time and we don’t plan our meals that extravagantly, like marinate the day before or whatnot. However, we did buy it so we decided to give it a go. I often find the best recipe book for dinners with cool, fun and quick meals are in my Looneyspoons book and I’ve done a lot of those recipes over here for it, especially in the earlier recipe days. Now I have more choices and Pinterest is always a good place to find all sorts of recipes.

Here we go!

Pork Tenderloin Roast
(‘The Loin King’ from  The Looneyspoons Collection by Janet & Greta Podleski)

Pork Tenderloin Roast

Ingredients
Makes 10 servings

Marinade
1/4 cup each brown sugar and ketchup
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp curry powder, ground coriander and ground ginger
1/2 tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 boneless pork loin roast (4lbs/1.8kg)

  1. Whisk together all marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Place pork in a large, heavy-duty resealable plastic bag. Add marinade and seal bag. Turn bag several times to coat roast with marinade. Marinate overnight in refrigerator.
  2. Preheat oven to 325F. Remove pork from bag and place on a rack set in a shallow roasting pan. Reserve marinade. Roast pork, uncovered, from about 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours. Meat thermometer should read 155F.
  3. While roast is cooking, pour reserved marinade into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 minutes. Brush roast generously with marinade during last 20 minutes of cooking time.
  4. Remove roast from oven. Cover loosely with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

To be fair, other than the marinating part overnight, making this one was pretty easy. Plus, it helps that this recipe also turned out pretty good. I’m one of those odd people who do love adding ketchup into marinade and liking that tangy taste it gives. Adding onto the fact that the spices are pretty good as well, it loved it a lot. We did end up skipping the bring the reserved marinade to boil in a saucepan (#3 of instructions) mostly because my husband said that the marinade will heat up in the oven. Which I can’t really argue with especially since it all worked out in the end.

Do you like to make roasts? How do you like to make them? What spices do you like using?

Breakfast Dinner: Portobello Mushrooms & Eggs

2017 is going to be a huge goal of trying to get back to a healthier lifestyle. With that said, cooking is going to be a bigger part of our life. At least we’re really trying to do more homecooked meals.

In the last few months of 2016, I started having a huge love for Portobello mushrooms. Add into our love for breakfast food and eggs in general, I thought about doing something like this for a while and decided this past weekend that with the remaining two Portobello mushrooms left in the pack, I could try this one out. I took some inspiration from the site below for cooking times but I didn’t really season with anything fancy.

Portobello Mushrooms & Eggs

Portobello Mushrooms & EggsRecipe inspired by: http://healthyrecipesblogs.com/2013/11/04/eggs-baked-in-portobello-mushrooms/

Ingredients
Makes 2 servings

2 Portobello mushrooms
2 eggs
Salt & pepper to season
a dash of Herbes des Provences
olive oil, to spray

How to make it

  1. Preheat broiler, setting temperature to high. Set oven rack in the middle and line the baking sheet with foil.
  2. Spray the mushroom caps with olive oil cooking spray on both sides. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil 5 minutes on each side.
  3. Remove mushrooms from oven. Switch oven from broil to bake, setting temperature at 400F.
  4. Break an egg in each mushroom. Sprinkle with Herbes des Provences.  Bake 15 minutes, until egg whites are cooked.
  5. Sprinkle the egg with a dash of salt and pepper. Serve.

If you follow the link above, you can see the variation is to sprinkle with cheese. Which would be our first choice except we ran out of lactose-free cheese (for myself) so I used herbs instead. And that worked out quite well. A note to remember would be to avoid sogginess to wipe clean instead of washing the mushroom. I only remembered that as I turned on the faucet and tried to soak up the water as much as I could. It wasn’t too soggy luckily.

Overall, simple and easy. I really loved the taste of this one and to be honest, I’ve been thinking about heading out to get some more portobello mushrooms and adding cheese to the mixture and it should taste even better.

How do you like to make mushrooms? What variety do you use?

Restaurant: Portus 360

It feels like a while since I’ve gone out to explore some new restaurants. After a lovely Christmas Eve meal with my foodie friends, they asked me out for a Friday night out for dinner. I could never say no especially when good company and food are the combination, along with their little one, who just steals everyone’s heart. Let’s just say, I needed a hug that day and the first thing I got was a hug. The restaurant we decided to go to was Portus 360, which is new and takes over the restaurant previously there when it was the Delta Hotel which is now EVO, a student housing building or something like that. Portus 360 is located on the top floor of a tall building. The floor rotates 360 so that as you eat, you can drink in the views of Montreal and on the windows, it also marks where you are looking out into. We’ve all never actually eaten at the previous restaurant but its something we’d like to try out, especially for the 360 view of Montreal.

Portus 360 is a portuguese restaurant and we shared a few tapas plates. Unfortunately, my pictures of the 360 were blurry so nothing to show here except for the food.

Portus 360 

Bread and Olives

Portus 360

Wine

Portus 360

Via Latina is the white wine that our waitress chose for us when we requested something sweet and fruity (I believe). It is a sparkling wine and while we weren’t too sure about it at first. My friend who is the harder one to please in terms of wine approved, we took it. It tasted pretty good. I’ve never had portuguese wine before and its a pleasant experience.

Soup & Portuguese Tapas

Portus 360

Sopa Alentejana (Salted Cod Soup with Poached Egg)

Portus 360

Pasteis de Bacalhau (Cod Croquettes)

Filetes de Sardinha Grelhados (grilled sardine fillets, bread croutons)

Filetes de Sardinha Grelhados (grilled sardine fillets, bread croutons)

Portus 360

Polva Grelhado (Grilled Octopus)

Portus 360

Lulas Recheadas (Stuffed Calamari)

Portus 360

Costela Curta Estufada (braised short rib)

The only thing out of this meal that I didn’t try was the soup. I’m no connoisseur of Portuguese cuisine and I rarely eat tapas but as pricey as Portus 360 might be or as gimmicky it may also be to have the 360 view of Montreal and probably the price tag is for that, the food here is really good. The cod croquettes were delicious. The grilled octopus was perfectly chewy and tender (unlike the last experience I had at another restaurant a few months ago). The stuff calamari was so awesome. The braised short rib was a little salty for my taste but the texture of the dish itself was great. Now, I think that when a restaurant can transform something that someone doesn’t particularly enjoy into a good experience is one of the best feelings ever to the person eating. I personally am not a fan of sardines. It has too many bones and I don’t like the texture but somehow as I took my piece of the sardine fillets and bread croutons, there was a really nice balance. I’m still not a fan of the tiny bones that sardines have but I couldn’t help wondering what they put on the bread croutons and the lovely cooked pepper or tomatoes or onion touch on the top. It was really tasty and a great Portuguese dining experience. I do want to go back one day and try out their actual main dishes. Some of the items look particularly interesting.

Portus 360

Some other things to mention is that the decor is very nice. At one point, we turn to this seafood market sort of thing and we can look at the fresh seafood they have. Its a very nice touch. On top of that, our waitress was great. She chose a good wine and she was polite and very helpful and patient. She made sure to remind me a second time about what had dairy products and that I should stay away from, which is always appreciated, when the dishes arrived on top of telling me when we ordered. It is these little things that make a dining experience feel complete. Sure, Portus 360 is a tad pricy, but sometimes I think its nice to have special occasions to celebrate where we have great food, good service and beautiful views, add on the awesome company and it makes it worth it.

With that said, I’ll probably post again when I go another time (when I do). I believe I might take my husband and my mom next time.

Have you had Portuguese food? What do you like?

Unboxing & Recap: Miss Fresh #6

Remember last Unboxing/Recap of Miss Fresh I said I had another box coming soon? Here it is!

Miss Fresh
(Week of November 29th)

Miss FreshNote: There is as usual 4 recipes but they forgot to include one of the recipe cards. Luckily, the recipe is available online.

GNOCCHIS WITH BRUSSEL SPROUTS
pine nuts, red onions and parmesan

Miss Fresh

Gnocchis with Brussel Sprouts (without cheese)

I’m going to admit that I’ve only ever had gnocchi maybe once before this time so I wasn’t exactly sure how to cook it and my version was the cheeseless version. My husband had the actual version with cheese sprinkled on top. I can’t say that I’m particularly happy with this recipe. I think the flavors were a bit complex or maybe I just didn’t make it correctly. However, my husband’s actual version tasted good so I think the cheese adds a nice balance to it. If I were to make this again, it might be without apples and more finely chopped onions. Other than that, the brussel sprouts and gnocchi itself was perfect, plus, pine nuts added a really nice touch to it.

The take away from this recipe other than making gnocchi is that brussel sprouts are fantastic made in the simplest way possible: over-roasted seasoned with salt and pepper.

CHICKEN BREAST WITH APRICOT SAUCE
served with Squash Couscous

Miss Fresh

Chicken Breast with Apricot Sauce

If you all know me well, you know that I love chicken. It is one of those things that determine why I could never be a vegetarian. I have to admit that I chose this box for having this apricot sauce recipe because I just wanted to learn how to make it. I don’t use couscous ever unless its in these boxes. This one uses a Israeli Couscous and actually, much to my surprise, the squash couscous had a bit of heat that matched well with the tarragon and apricot sauce on the chicken. This is really tasty! I love the recipe a lot.

Biggest takeaway from this one: Chicken breast covered in foil baked in oven helps retain a lot of tenderness in the meat. We have always struggled with chicken breast being too dry after its cooked, so this could be a good solution in the future.

SAUSAGE AND POTATO PAN ROAST
with Spinach and Tomatoes

Miss Fresh

Sausage and Potato Pan Roast

Both my husband and I deem this the favorite recipe in this Miss Fresh box. The sausage tasted great. Its a normal everyday meal but super easy to put together as its just putting everything into a pan, seasoning a little, very little preparation as well and pop into the oven. I love efficient recipes and I ended up actually making this one for lunch one day over the weekend and it was super great. Even better because my Saturdays are always busy running around taking care of stuff so making something that tastes good and is quick and easy is extra plus.

SWEDISH MEATBALLS
on Basmati Rice and Napa Salad

Miss Fresh

Swedish Meatballs

The highlight of the main reason of why I got this box was for Swedish Meatballs! Sometimes, it is the reason I head out to IKEA. I was hoping that it’d turn out as it should. To be honest, these ones didn’t taste great but I have a feeling it is my own fault. In these recipes, the biggest issues I have are when it explains the simmering and whatnot. I feel like its hard to judge how much sauce is there and the portions and time frames sometimes don’t work well for me. However, this recipe could be just because I chopped the onions a little too big and there was just too much. I’m not an onion fan to begin with and the only way I enjoy a dish is when the onion is chopped really fine but I’m not good with preparation in the kitchen. It is a work in progress. I honestly blame myself if this didn’t turn out as it should.

Overall…This box turned out okay. I mean, we had two really great recipes and two that were decent but could be better because I pinpointed where my flaws were and I honestly think it is my approach that needs to change than anything else. However, if the lovely team at Miss Fresh do read this. Please remember to triple check that all recipe cards are enclosed. I was cooking the chicken via my phone. Its a bit more hectic because my phone’s screen will shut off after a certain amount of time and I don’t have the best memory so I like to triple check before doing anything. Just a minor detail, you know, but improves the experience when it isn’t overlooked.