Battle of Ingredients #16: New Year’s Eve Hotpot

Welcome to Battle of Ingredients hosted by myself and Phoebe from Starry Traveler’s Road. As usual, we had our New Year’s Eve shindig. Just like last year, we decided to have a chinese fondue aka Hotpot. There’s not a whole lot of new things to share this time but its procedure to share a little of what we’ve been doing, even if its just sharing with you hotpot which is a really fun time to spend with friends and family, cooking and catching up.

Drinks

Val Caudalies

Kicking off the New Year’s Eve, our friends brought us Val Caudalies to try. The first was an ice wine of sorts which was pretty decent. It had lovely sweet notes that pleased everyone’s taste buds. The second was a vermouth which we tried to drink on its own and did taste pretty good but mostly mixed with soda (CocaCola, Ginger Ale) and then ended up trying some simple syrups that I had inherited from one of my friends when she moved (see below).

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The Hotpot & Table of Food

Hotpot

Here’s the table spread of all the food (except two things which we opened afterwards).

Phoebe took care of vegetables and such:

  • Nappa Cabbage
  • Baby Bok Choy
  • Watercress
  • Coriander
  • 3 types of mushrooms: Enoki, Oyster, Shimeji
  • Winter Melon
  • Tofu

I took care of the meat and other things:

  • Udon Noodles
  • Marinated Sliced Chicken Thighs (garlic, ginger, salt)
  • Store-bought sliced beef
  • Homemade pork dumplings (Filling: Minced pork, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper)
  • Store-bought fish pancakes, cuttlefish balls, beef balls (not shown above)

Hotpot

With all that, we were ready for a feast! Hotpot is pretty much the concept of fondue so we all through things in gradually. We have a two sided pot. One side started out with boiled hot water and the other was with chicken broth diluted with water. Water is the key element here and needs to always have some extra boiled water on hand to fill it up whenever needed to keep things going. We did it in phases of tossing a ton of stuff we wanted in and then covering it until it boiled, eating all of it and then on to the next round, so on so forth. It was a pretty decent system and gave us time to sit down to chat and mix drinks and whatever in between waiting.

Dessert

So I’m not going to lie that at this point, I didn’t remember to take pictures as food coma was kind of in the midst of all this. My mom joined our little shindig and brought us a banana cake (which saved me from some baking), which I forgot to take a picture of because for me, its a normal thing.

Aside from bringing alcohol, my friend also brought an apple crumble which I also forgot to take a picture of.

One of the fun little things is that Phoebe found a little Japanese gummy making set for her little one to do under adult supervision and here were the results:

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Some of us had a taste of it but I’m not sure it actually tasted that good. It was more of a fun little experience as a group rather than it being really meant to be eaten as I think the main consensus was the texture wasn’t too good and it was really sweet. Phoebe can weigh in on it in the comments as I believe she did taste it.

That’s it for this Battle of Ingredients!
It was a great way to ring in 2020 as we ended the evening as usual with more chatting and video games.

Battle of Ingredients: October 2019 Fall BBQ

Battle of Ingredients

Its been a long time since our last Battle of Ingredients! To be fair, we did have a dinner outing (or two) during this hiatus but it wasn’t nothing that I particularly wanted or had time to write about but the group got back together on the last weekend of October to get in a final little BBQ session. Phoebe made a few version of ribs and brought some assorted veggies while I did some drumsticks and butternut squash for the grill and brought some extra stuff to pad the menu in case there wasn’t enough food.

Drinks

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As usual, our friend provided the beverages. This time, he went for the assorted pack of Pepito’s Sangria which had three varieties: Sangria Blanca, Sangria Rosada and Bella Sangria. It had different non-alcoholic wine bases although there was still 4% of alcohol content in it so its a bit odd. Its light and fruity. I only had the Sangria Blanca and Sangria Rosada because the other one was the red wine base so while its non-alcoholic, it was more of a precaution. Sangria Rosada definitely had the berry flavors more while the Blanca was more the harvest fruits like apples and pears.

Main Dishes

Kim

Drumsticks

To kick things off, the first thing I made was Chicken Drumsticks. They are covered with the Dim Sum Dry Rub that I had bought previously and had already used before. It was a busy weekend so still working with the more familiar recipes. The last time I had used it on chicken wings and it still worked really well with the drum sticks. We had given it a little time to sit covered between tossing it on the grill.

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Butternut Squash seemed like a nice fall addition to the menu. Squashes are in abundance now so its always great to add them in. Its hard to cut but then I had done a similar recipe from Goodfood before in the oven and decided to give it a shot on the grill. This is done really simple. We just peel and then cut it into pieces, remove the seed and then sprinkle with salt and pepper and then its ready to put on the aluminium plates to grill. I forgot to add some honey to give it some sweetness at the end but that was supposed to be the plan.

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As the additional stuff in case there wasn’t enough food, I went out to M&M Food Markets and picked up the veggie burger patties (because they were on sale) and also the dinner rolls. I can’t say that I liked either of these very much. The dinner rolls turned hard really fast and the patties tasted a bit odd so still on the hunt for a good veggie burger patty.

Phoebe

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Lack of pictures on my part but Phoebe did make two types of ribs. The one above is the Korean Galbi style attempt which turned out pretty good. I eat rather bland food so I thought it was a little on the salty side however, for normal people who eat regular flavored food, this was pretty on point.

Her second style which is not here because it came off the grill after we started eating was a Honey Soy Sauce which is her little one’s favorite.

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Finally, the last dish to show itself is an assorted veggie platter to grill. It had both yellow and green zucchini, asparagus and Portobello mushrooms.

Overall…its a bit of a normal little Battle of Ingredients but as a little BBQ to get back into the routine of things, we had a lot of fun. Everything turned out pretty good and we had a nice balance of vegetables and meat. The alcohol was also very light and fruity.

Next up in the Battle of Ingredients is our normal November hiatus as we go and explore MTL a Table offerings. Right now, we have 3 booked in (and shouldn’t have more than that on our side at least). With that said, the first one has already happened as this post goes up so that’s coming up very soon.

Battle of Ingredients #14 BBQ in the Thunderstorm

The summer is officially here and the weather has been beautiful with a heat wave of sort, more like humidity that swept through this past week as the thunderstorm just refused to roll in. Of course, Phoebe and I ended up choosing the day for the Battle of Ingredients on the day that the thunderstorm did hit. The thunderstorm did give us the perk of having a nice cool breeze. The husband was a champ and toughed out the rain under our car port to be the grill master. Summer BBQ is always a theme with us and we did try to keep things a little different and give some variety.

Drinks

Smirnoff Ice

As a change in pace, especially since I also found out that I had overtime on Sunday, my friends brought in the lighter coolers for our drinks and chose a mix pack for Smirnoff Ice which had the Classic, Wild Berry, Raspberry and Orange. These ones are always light and fun. Its been a while since I’ve had a Smirnoff Ice so it definitely brings me back to the early days when I first got introduced to the whole drinking alcohol business. Back to this choice, it was really refreshing and fruity and suitable for the general shindig.

BBQ Food

Phoebe

BBQ Mushrooms

Mushrooms, Corn & Zucchini

Coca Cola Chicken Drumsticks

Coca Cola Marinated Chicken Drumsticks

Phoebe bought over some mushrooms (mini bella & fresh shiitake) along with zucchini and corn to grill as our veggies. At the same time, she did a take 2 on last year’s coca cola chicken wings except this time she used drumsticks and had marinated them for 2 days beforehand to hopefully get the coca cola flavor more prominent. While the drumsticks still didn’t have the cola taste being exceptionally standout, it still had a really nice flavor to it.

Kim

Chicken and Veggies Skewers

Chicken and Veggie Skewers

Bacon wrapped sausages

Bacon-wrapped Sausages

My contribution went to two very basic options. The first was the bacon-wrapped sausages which I had planned for last time but didn’t end up doing so here we go. It turned out as it would to be quite good since you can’t really go wrong with sausages and bacon combo (at least to me). Chicken and Veggies skewers composed of chicken thighs, zucchini, bell peppers and Spanish onion. We also decided to try a new barbecue sauce and bought the Joe Beef one. They turned out really good as well.

Dessert

Nothing for dessert tonight and we chose the healthy route of having fruits which I obviously forgot to take a picture of. Next time, I’ll have some other plans.

That’s it for this Battle of Ingredients!
July is a busy month (as explained in the last Weekly Adventures post HERE), so we are working out some place to dine out instead.
Battle of Ingredients should resume in August (we are working out availability…). 

Recap: Goodfood #28

goodfood recap

We’re back with last week’s Goodfood meal box. This one has one repeat in it. However, a lot of them looked so promising that we decided to give it a go. Just a note that if you follow this series specifically, we’ve dropped from biweekly to monthly subscriptions of the box. The main reason is that this box was always structured to be a balance for when we were busy with stuff and event coverage season is pretty much done for this year except for one more in November so we are getting back to finding cool recipes to work on. I’ll share some of those here whenever we try something new on our own.

Let’s check out how this Goodfood went!

Fresh Tagliatelle with Chicken & Sundried Tomatoes
Portobello Mushrooms & Baby Spinach

fresh tagliatelle chicken

My husband loves to eat pasta. Honestly, I can get pretty picky about it. We have our definite fave recipes. Surprisingly, tagliatelle is never our first choice. My husband isn’t a big fan of the texture. He’s never been one to enjoy the thick noodle variety. As for myself, I actually quite like it but then stick to the more traditional normal stuff. Either way, I chose this recipe because it doesn’t have a cream sauce. Its so rare to find recipes, unless I make it up myself to not have that rose sauce or white creamy sauce. Lactose intolerance definitely doesn’t work with pasta so well so this recipe looked simple and delicious with all its ingredients. It lived pretty much up to its standards. Plus, I multitasked like a beast and even got the chicken perfectly cooked, which is super rare. I’m really not that great of a cook..more a baker at heart. The meal here works really well. Its nice and simple and everything blends so well together and has a decent amount of protein and veggies. Delicious stuff! My husband doesn’t admit it but he ate everything else but the noodles so I think it worked for him also but for us, we’ll probably go with some other type of pasta using the same recipe.

Braised Berbere Chicken
with Green Beans & Tangy Couscous

Braised Berbere Chicken

I’m not sure if you know what Berbere is but we sure didn’t. However, it apparently (if you didn’t already know), is a common Ethiopian spice blend. Its a tad spicy if you look at the spice combination. Matched up with the couscous which this time is made in water rather than just soaking in hot water in a bowl, it was such a difference in fluffiness. I liked it a lot more than usual. Plus, its more neutral flavor compliments well with the strong spices used on the chicken and there’s a decent amount of veggies to also make it a very tasty and balanced meal. This was pretty much our experiment new flavor of the box and it turned delicious.

Peanut Butter Dumplings
with Sesame Green Beans

Peanut Butter Dumplings

Our repeat menu of the box! Actually its the third time, that I’ve gotten this recipe. It shows how much we love it. Especially since I’ve been having massive dumpling cravings of late. This was the first time my husband had to help out with this one. It turned out every bit as good as I remember it. I imagine you will see this one again whenever it pops up as a choice. Right now, its just waiting for that veggie banh mi that we love so much to come back.

Pork Katsu
with Sticky Rice, Yu Choy & Wafu Sauce

Pork Katsu

The final meal of the box is Pork Katsu. I’m kept think that we had done this recipe before but I think its because I had almost gotten it once before but change it last minute. Either way, props to the husband for stepping up and getting the pork katsu done on point. Its pretty much the replica of the recipe card except without the sauce, because I just keep forgetting to put it. Its a Wafu sauce that goes on top and it would work great with it. Calrose rice is what’s here so it has that sticky rice texture. We like yu choy quite a bit and the pork katsu turned out pretty good. Its a nice contrast to the heavy flavors in the rest of the box, particularly the Berbere chicken earlier so this ended off the week with something a little more subtle in taste was nice. As good as this was, I might not exactly choose it again unless for a filler when something else I have comes up and its a choice.

Overall, no doubt that the peanut butter dumplings were my faves. But I think the surprisingly good discovery was the Berbere Chicken which was delicious. However, on an everyday cooking idea recipe, the tagliatelle is definitely in for an easy pasta night idea except with something other pasta.

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?

Hong Kong Restaurants: The Spaghetti House

When I’m Hong Kong, I usually eat mostly Chinese food.  It makes up for the crappiness of it right here in Montreal.

However, there are always exceptions and the first Saturday I was there, I was with my mom, her best friend and my aunt and we had to wait for a table at New Town Plaza.  It was between two restaurants right from each other.  Obviously, The Spaghetti House ended up giving us a table first so we went in and at down.

The Spaghetti House is a chain of restaurants specialized in mostly pasta.  I’m sure you guessed that one on your own 😉 The menu doesn’t only have pasta. It has rice, soups, salads and pizza.  I’ve always been curious how it was to go here.

Whats nice about The Spaghetti House (and some selected restaurant) is that if you hold a certain bank credit card, there are some priorities to it. In this one, it was the Standard Chartered Bank which opened up another special set dinner menu for a pretty decent price and some dishes not on the actual menu. My aunt had that specific card so she took a set dinner for two and my mom shared it with her.

Their meal included a soup, an appetizer, a set meal and a meal to choose from a specified list.

The Spaghetti House

Lobster Bisque

Apparently, I heard that The Spaghetti House is supposed to be known for their Lobster Bisque.  Except, I have this vague memory that my mom said that it was a bit on the salty side.

The Spaghetti House

Eggplant Rolls with Scottish Smoked Salmon and Crab Roe (Sesame Dressing)

I actually found this be an original idea.  I never thought of using eggplant as a roll.  Definitely something I would try to make.  My aunt and my mom both enjoyed this one.

The Spaghetti House

Baked Boston Lobster Thermidor in Crab Roe & Black Truffle Sauce with Handmade Fettuccine

This dish looks so beautiful.  Maybe its because I love lobster.  I couldn’t taste this because it had this creamy sauce on top of it. No one had any complaints about this one either 🙂

The Spaghetti House

Fried Rice with Scottish Smoked Salmon and Scallops

My mom especially complimented on her choice of having rice here.  I had a taste of this and it was very good.  Plus, they were generous with the seafood which always is a good.

Moving right along to my mom’s best friend who chose this:

The Spaghetti House

Squid Ink Rice with Grilled Chicken Steak in Fresh Tomato Puree

I’ve always been curious on what Squid Ink rice or pasta tastes like.  Apparently its rather good.  I didn’t get a chance to try this out.  However, she really liked it and said its a nice change. Maybe next time 😉

Finally, we come to my meal.  Up to now, all you’ve read is that I didn’t try a lot of these foods for whatever reasons.  The truth was that I had gone through a slight stomach problem after a week of eating crazily that never really revived so I wasn’t going to be too adventurous.  You will see that for the next few days, things will be tamer in the eating out department. However, it does get back to some form of normality so I still try to enjoy myself as much as I can 🙂 With that in mind, I was careful and chose a “go green” meal with angel hair and vegetables.

The Spaghetti House

Angel Hair with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Mushrooms

I’m a huge fan of Angel hair pasta and it seems incredibly hard to find at supermarkets somehow.  Its easier to digest and has a nice texture.  This one was very nice.  It was a bit oily but the balance of vegetables, both tomatoes and mushrooms were pretty good. It wasn’t too bland and had a good balance of taste.  I’d definitely say its a winner 🙂

Maybe it sounds weird to be eating Italian food in Hong Kong but a little change is always welcome to keep those taste buds alive.  The Spaghetti House may be a chain but it has a lovely menu.  I almost couldn’t make my choice. We all enjoyed what we had ordered and for my mom and aunt, they almost couldn’t finish their own meal.  There was also dessert included in theirs but I forgot to take a picture.

Are you fan of Italian cuisine? What sort of pasta do you like? Are you a seafood fan?