Yeah, I bake in the summer. I’m in the kitchen, takin’ the heat!
Fresh baked Ginger Molasses and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies.
Oh, you better believe I was skeptical about this one. I never pass on chocolate, but c’mon… chocolate tofu? Ew, I dunno. I’ve never been a big fan of tofu or soy products, but exploring Eastern cuisines helped me to accept it and occasionally enjoy it. Now, I’m learning to cook with it. Welcome to my kitchen, tofu.
There are no eggs, cream, or butter in this dessert, yet it is fluffy, creamy, and quite pleasant on the palate. Maple syrup is the primary sweetener (use the real thing), along with raspberry jam and some melted chocolate to make it extra rich. Seriously, if you don’t tellem it’s tofu no one will guess.
Let the tofu come to room temperature. Gently melt the chocolate chips (use very low heat or microwave) then blend in the olive oil and cocoa powder. Set aside to cool.
Whip the tofu, raspberry jam, almond extract, and maple syrup until smooth and fluffy. Stir in the chocolate mixture and a big handful of fresh raspberries. Chill thoroughly before serving.
*NOTE: This makes yummy frozen popcicles!
I love streetfood: tasty, no fuss, eat-it-while-u-walk snacks that make my tummy happy without breaking my budget. I especially love the kind of streetfood that’s more than just a snack, it’s a real treat. The sight of a quality streetfood vendor should provoke the same kind of primitive Pavlovian response as the sound of the Ice Cream Man and make me come runnin’ with a handful of loonies. Gingerman and I have found exactly that vendor.
The Roaming Dragon is like a tapas bar on wheels. They offer a selection of fresh, fun, Asian-fusion goodies that go beyond preconceived notions of “food cart” cuisine. We spotted the truck visiting Kits Point near Arbutus and Whyte, and they have made appearances at Vancouver Farmers Markets. We selected 3 dishes for $15 and took advantage of their “Dragonista” twitter promo for a free Lychee Lemonade. Great deal!
Connect with Roaming Dragon for up-to-date locations and info!
Lychee Basil Lemonade ~ Cool, tart, sweet, and refreshing.
Nice twist on a summertime standard. Basil is related to mint, and adding it to the mix was brilliant. The drink has unexpected texture, with little chunks of lychee swimming around, and is served with a wide straw. Personally, I’m not a big fan of lychee, but Gingerman liked the drink so much we came back later and bought a second one.
Duck Confit Salad ~ Savory, melt-in-your-mouth duck confit served warm on a bed of young green things with little chunks of pineapple and watermelon.
I loved the addition of watermelon. It gave a completely different contrast in texture and flavour than the pineapple, and both fruits make good company for duck. As a whole, it was nicely balanced and not too sweet. Requires a fork or chopsticks (if you’re the civilized sort).
Short Rib Tacos ~ Korean style shortrib cradled in a tiny soft taco with a little nori, some greens, carrots, and bean sprouts.
Nicely spiced sort of East meets West take on tacos el pastor. This was the dish I most wanted to try, and it was a NUMMY success!
Rice Balls ~ Crispy fried balls of fried rice.
I know, it sounds deadly, but taste was the payoff. The coating was crispy and quite thin, just doing its job at holding the rice in shape. The rice was a little creamy, with an aroma of 5-spice and the taste of soy in the background. On top, a little drizzle of golden sauce with hints of curry—yum!
*Pork Belly Sliders ~ Tender morsel of pork, thin-sliced cucumber, tasty sauce, soft bun.
Char Siu Bau magically transformed into a dim-sum slider! Skeptical at first, I took one bite and was hooked. Ingenious and delicious.
*NOTE: I confess, when Gingerman listed options from the menu, pork belly was not my first pick. I’ve had a few bad experiences with greasy, chewy pork belly at restaurants, and didn’t want to spend our dough on the possibility of disappointment. However, after we paid for our main order, the hubs let slip that I was planning to blog about the food, and Dragontruck threw in the sliders gratis. I thank them from the bottom of my stomach. Totally loved them!
It was a patio evening in Kitsilano: the sun had just slipped behind Bowen Island, the breeze was slow and cool, and we’d had a busy day. Time for some “tapanese” food and sake at Hapa Izakaya!
An izakaya is a sit-down sake shop, rather like a Japanese pub. The servers are quick and pleasant, and soon enough, someone places a tall slice of bamboo on our table, chilled and full of cold sake. Conversation is easy. There is no talk of work or responsibilities.
We refill each other’s little bamboo cups full as the plates arrive. The food is fresh and not overly complicated, delighting the eye and pleasing the palate. Halfway through the bamboo tube of sake, we’re full of easy smiles and laughter. The plates come and go, until dessert and a cocktail round out our evening. The chocolate caramel mousse is a little piece of heaven. I feel unwound, relaxed, and happy. The breezy summer weather is perfect for a seaside stroll, so we take the long way home.
About Hapa Izakaya:
Lea and Justin Ault introduced Hapa Izakaya to Vancouver diners in 2003. Now, three locations offer a variety of scrumptious Japanese tapas, plus cocktails, beer, wine, and premium sake. The decor is simple and clean, and the atmosphere is casual, with plenty of intimate tables for two. Interior seating can easily accomodate groups—perfect for sharing a little bit of everything.
Robson, Kitsilano, and Yaletown Hapa locations are open from 5:30 PM to 1 AM on Friday/Saturday and until midnight from Sunday to Thursday.
Prices are reasonable, the sake selection is excellent, and the food has never disappointed me. There’s always something good on the Fresh Sheet menu—go when BC Spot Prawns are in season if you can! New things are fun, but I must always have the Ebi Mayo or Negitoro and a Harajuku Girl.
I did not take snapshots of my meal, but you can see lovely pictures of several dishes and the restaurant interiors at Hapa’s online photo gallery. Lately, I find that taking pictures of food at a restaurant detracts from my enjoyment of the meal, so I quit doing it. All the fussiness of photography is distracting when really I just want to eat, drink, and have a good time.
Leaving a comment? I’m curious . . . what makes a meal memorable for you?
Once upon a time, I tried really really hard to make a special cake for a special person. This is pretty much how it went down.
Company has arrived and it’s time to bring out the glorious cake!
What are you gonna do?
A. Serve it with pride and a stiff cocktail.
B. Dump it in the trash, then hide and have a nice long cry.
C: Frame the dog.
NOTE: This option seldom works with cats, but might work with a small child or husband if a dog is unavailable.
Clafoutis ~ I’ve heard the name tossed about on food TV frequently the past few days, and today it was all I could think about when I saw a stack of beautiful, blushy Rainer cherries at a Granville Island produce stand. This French dessert can be made with any stone fruit (think peaches, plums, apricots) or even with berries, but the classic version from the Limosin region of France uses black cherries.
Technically, a clafoutis using anything other than black cherries is a flaugnarde, so says the intertoobs, and in traditional recipies, cherry pits are not removed before baking. Leaving the pits is said to enhance flavour, but I didn’t want to have to pick around them, so I pitted my cherries.
Ingredients are simple: egg, milk, flour, flavour, a little butter or oil. Clafoutis batter is rather thin, like crepe batter, and is usually flavoured with almond or vanilla. It puffs up during baking and cuddles around the fruit as it sets. In fact, it’s very much like making a Dutch Baby pancake.
This was my first attempt at clafoutis, and it turned out quite well. Gingerman liked it, and we had the leftover portion for breakfast the next day. I half made up a recipe on the fly because I had only 2 eggs and a strangely shaped dish. A few more experiments, and I’ll come up with a reliable version of my own. Meanwhile, I found some inspiring recipes online and gathered a bit of clafoutis wisdom to share.
Baking Tips for Clafoutis:
Recipes for Clafoutis:
Leaving a comment? I’m curious . . . how do you like to eat cherries?
I love buying tomatoes at the farmers market. Yeah, they sometimes cost more than tomatoes at the supermarket or local grocer, but not too much more. And these heirloom tomatoes are homegrown, with varieties of distinctive taste, texture, and colour that no storebought tomato can match.
Homegrown Tomatoes by Guy Clark
Ain’t nothin’ in the world that I like better
than bacon and lettuce and homegrown tomatoes…
Plant ’em in the Spring, eat’em in the Summer
All Winter without ’em’s a culinary bummer…
Only two things that money can’t buy
that’s true love and homegrown tomatoes.
There are tomatoes for every taste: dense flavourful plum tomatoes that are excellent for sauces, as well as big juicy red, yellow, orange tomatoes that make the perfect slice for a BLT. There are citrusy tomatoes that add zing to your salads, and tiny pop-em-in-your-mouth-like-candy tomatoes that taste like sunshine.
For more farmers market goodies, see also:
Leaving a comment? I’m curious… how do you like your tomatoes?