Chicken Stock!

Stock is one of the first things you learn how to make in culinary school, it’s the base to many more complex dishes from soups and consommés to risottos and pastas! A very diverse item yet it is so easy to make! A home made stock will elevate your dish from just alright to amazing!

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 lbs of chicken bones
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 2 small onions halved
  • 1 lemon
  • leftover herbs
  • 6 litres water

Method:

Stocks are one of the easiest things to make! Chicken bones can be found in your local grocery store, they usually come frozen, any kind of chicken bones will do but the neck and breasts are the best. The neck and breast contain a lot of gelatine which will give your stock body. You can even use bones of an already roasted chicken! As for herbs, you can add as much or as little as you want, I would stay in the range of thyme, oregano and parsley. Nothing too strong in flavour that may change the flavour of your dish. Put all our ingredients in a stock pot and bring it to a boil.

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You want to start off with cold water, if boil your water first and add in your ingredients than your stock will be cloudy. When everything comes up to a boil, skim off the access fats and impurities. Turn your stock down to a medium low simmer. Cook for 3-4 hours skimming periodically (every 30 minutes or so).

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Keep the stock uncovered to ensure a nice clear broth! After you’ve cooked the stock for 4 hours, you cannot gain any more flavour or body from the bones or other ingredients, so strain it and pass it through a cheesecloth (optional if you want a clear broth). Cool overnight and use within a week. If you have leftover broth, place the remainder in jars and freeze. They will last months and be ready for use immediately!

Enjoy!!


Burgers ETC!

So I was in need for a new burger joint, Red Robin’s by Metrotown was my regular burger place and since Station Square is being rebuilt they closed down, hopefully just temporarily! Meanwhile this gives me a good opportunity to try new places around the area. My good friends brother recommended Burgers ETC, located on Hastings and Gilmore. We decided to give it a try. I had initially thought that the restaurant would exclusively sell burgers, but to my surprise when we walked in it was pretty much a BBQ house! Great! I love BBQ, the smells of the grill was way too tempting to pass up so I decided to go towards a BBQ dish instead of my intended burger. There was an open kitchen concept so when you walk in, you can see the grill! It was so much cleaner than most of the restaurants I’ve been in, so right off the bat I was already impressed!

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I looked through the menu long and hard and decided to go with the Combo Platter, with this you get your choice of two meats and two sides. I ended up choosing the ribs and chicken wings for my meats and french fries and corn for my sides! I was pleasantly surprised that it was loose corn instead of a cob of barbecued corn on the cob. I mean, I’m sure that it wouldn’t be other patrons first choice, but I don’t like things that are hard to eat. I would rather have something more simple to eat instead of getting so messy with a whole cob of corn. It was pretty good, the ribs were tender, but not fall off the bone, good flavour and huge portions. The wings were pretty good, nothing to rant and rave about, but nothing to complain about either. This Combo Platter was pretty big, it would totally be enough to feed 2 for lunch, if not be prepared to have a doggy bag!

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My sister got a half rack of ribs with fries and corn as well, but to top it all off she had a milkshake! She also requested a couple shots of baileys in there to make it extra boozey! Not my cup of tea, but whatever floats your boat! She said that the milkshake was awesome and reminded her of the milkshake at Holstein’s in Las Vegas (Cosmopolitan Hotel).

My other friend got a cheeseburger with fries and gravy, not much comment from him on the burger, but he got the burger plain so I guess you can’t really mess up on a plain burger.

Overall, I’m pretty impressed with his place, I would definitely go back to try their burger. The service was pretty efficient, the servers were nice and attentive! I would rate Burgers ETC an 8/10. Things they could work on is the ventilation, be prepared to take a shower when you get home cause you’ll be smelling like the grill!

Burgers Etc. BBQ House on Urbanspoon


Banh Mi Saigon!

So Banh Mi Saigon… where do I start?  This is a Vietnamese store that is newly opened (about two weeks ago) on Victoria and 33rd avenue. They are classified as a deli and dessert restaurant, but they specializing in Vietnamese subs and Che (Vietnamese Dessert)! I’ve been there a few times prior to my last visit, but every time I get some sandwiches for the family, I never get the chance to have one fresh. From what I had tasted thus far, I wasn’t quite impressed because I’m not fond of their Vietnamese subs reheated in the toaster oven. I thought that I would give it a chance to have it fresh before I totally judge the sandwich. A friend that lives in the area told me that she saw the lady who sold Vietnamese Che 6 mau (six colour dessert) at the Richmond Night Market was working/the owner of Banh Mi Saigon. This has got to be one of my favourite Vietnamese desserts and bingo she was right! I walked in, there was a cool menu set up in the shape of a famous mall/grocery store in Vietnam called Cho Ben Thanh and the che 6 mau was on the menu! It beats waiting for the summer night market to come to enjoy the bean dessert!

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I digress, so my friend and I tried the Vietnamese sub fresh, we got the meatball sub and added Vietnamese ham to share, we also ordered a couple of lemon iced tea’s to cool us down from the hot weather. Usually the most popular sub is the special sup which has Vietnamese ham and bacon, meatball (ground), pate, mayo, cucumber, pickled vegetables (daikon and carrots), cilantro and jalapeño’s. To start off all the sandwiches are $4.50, a little more expensive than Bale (on Kingsway and Fraser) the place where I usually get my subs, which is $4.00. They loaded the sandwich with quite a lot of meat and picked vegetables! Since they weren’t cheap on ingredients I think it’s a pretty fair price. The sandwich was pretty good fresh, way better than when I had it reheated in the toaster oven. The bread was so good, crispy and crunchy on the outside, but still subtle and soft in the middle. The lemon iced tea on the other hand was phenomenal, on a totally different level than the sandwich! It’s so refreshing on a hot summers day! It came with shaved ice so you could get small pieces of ice coming up your straw while you drink it! I definitely enjoyed that!

Overall I really enjoyed my sandwich, I just wouldn’t recommend you get it prior, just consume it ASAP! If you do wait, the bread gets really soggy when you reheat it later. The dessert is just like the one at the Richmond Night Market, so that doesn’t disappoint. I give Banh Mi Saigon an 8/10, what they could work on is the service, though it’s friendly I feel as though they aren’t efficient enough, they still need to get into their own groove and work out the kinks. Give the place a try, its worth it to stop by for a really cheap lunch!

Banh Mi Saigon on Urbanspoon


Korean Short Ribs!

Well everyone it’s officially spring! Clean off the BBQ’s and get your grilling on! This recipe for Korean Short Ribs or “Galbi” in Korean will definitely start your spring off right!

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Ingredients:

  • 4 lbs of short ribs (for grilling not braising)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp corn syrup
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 korean pear
  • 1  1/2 onion
  • 10 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp monosodium glutamate (optional)

Method:

First I like to wash my short ribs off with cold water just to make sure there are no bone fragments on the meat. This will also help extract some blood so that you can marinate it easily. While the short ribs are soaking, in a food processor or blender (I just used my magic bullet, took a little longer but it works!), process your onion, Korean pear and garlic into a puree.

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Put the mixture into a mixing bowl and add your soy sauce, honey, corn syrup, vegetable oil, sesame oil, onion powder, garlic powder, pepper and MSG (optional, it helps bring out the umami flavour as well as tenderizes the meat). There are many misconceptions with MSG, from what I’ve read it is not actually linked with any heath risks! All that I have seen is that MSG leeches water, so it links to just dehydration which can cause headaches. Drink a big glass of water and you can enjoy! Anyways, mix all of the ingredients throughly. Drain your short ribs as well as possible and submerge your short ribs in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. Over night is best! When barbecuing turn your barbecue to the hottest temperature possible and grill for 2 and a half minutes on each side or until you get some nice grill marks on the ribs! This recipe is best prepared ahead of time and will freeze just as well. 
Enjoy!


Anny’s Dairy Bar!

Anny’s Dairy Bar is a dessert store in New Westminster just a 20 minute drive from Vancouver! It looks like a small scale store run by ma and pa, hiring high school students part time for help!  The establishment has very few tables, but I’d assume people are more inclined to grab their ice cream and enjoy the sun.

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They specialize in maple twist soft serve ice cream! I’ve been here once before and decided to go for a nice drive to get some yummy dessert! Of course I had to get the maple twist ice cream for true Canadian treat!

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They say its unique to British Columbia and I cannot confirm that, but I haven’t ever seen it served anywhere else. The ice cream is actually really good, really smooth and not too sweet. The maple flavour is a bit lacking I believe, but still great tasting ice cream! I’d prefer Anny’s ice cream over Soft Peak’s ice cream any day! It doesn’t have the glitz and glam of Soft Peaks, but they have some damn good ice cream!

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They give you good portions as well! The picture above was a small cone, really great value! Overall I give Anny’s Dairy Bar 8/10. They could improve on the service, there was only one young boy working and he was running the tills, making ice cream as well as cooking in the back kitchen. We went on a weekday and it was pretty deserted there, so that may be the result of the lack of employees… I’m sure they may have more staff in the summer! I would definitely go back and maybe come for lunch, looks like they make a great poutine, I’m just a little hesitant on canned gravy… but definitely worth a try!
Anny's Dairy Bar on Urbanspoon


Glenburns Soda Fountain and Confectionary! Ice cream anyone?

How can you not end a weekend without some ice cream! If you haven’t noticed I’m a huge ice cream junkie, soft serve or hard, I’m into it all! I had heard many things about Glenburns ice cream and gourmet soda, not to mention their amazing Urbanspoon record! A whopping 97%!! I definitely had to give this North Burnaby dessert shop a try.

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We went around 8:00PM I think this was our biggest mistake. It was so busy! There was at least 10 people ahead of us in line. We even debated waiting because it looked so stuffy inside, but thank god we waited! It was totally worth it.

The interior has a really retro American feel to it and the uniforms were pretty cool! There menu was pretty big too, had many combinations between ice cream sundaes, milkshakes or even floats!  The ice cream is not actually house made, they use local Birchwood Dairy ice cream, which is a dairy farm located in Abbotsford, British Columbia (http://www.birchwooddairy.com).

I decided to go with something simple, a small sundae with maple caramel ripple ice cream topped with chocolate sauce. I usually go towards the simple items on a menu when I approach a new establishment, I think it really shows what you can do when you perfect the basics.

It was fantastic! Really good ice cream and two huge scoops for a small. I was really impressed with the portion size! Totally worth the $4.75!

My older sister got a milkshake and no complaints from her! She was all quiet in the back seat during the ride home and we all know what that means! She must be really enjoying her time!

What impressed me the most was that my younger sister had a vanilla sundae with butterscotch topping. It was so simple, but the best one out of the bunch!! I would come back for that one for sure. It was amazing!

Definitely the best one! I would recommend this to anyone!

They also had some brownies for sale by the cash register and of course for the sake of the blog post I had to give it a try as well.

I think they had advertised it as a brown butter brownie. I think it was a good brownie, but the best? Doubtful! The good thing is that it wasn’t overly sweet, but I didn’t taste any brown butter richness at all.

Overall I would rate Glenburns 8/10! The only thing I think they could improve on is the system of moving traffic through the store. It was stuffy and congested, but well worth the wait! Will I come back again? Yes! I actually have been there twice now between the first time I went and posting this blog insert!

Glenburn Soda Fountain & Confectionery on Urbanspoon


Festive Easter Carrot Cake!

So this Easter I decided to step it up and make a cake! I always had this amazing carrot cake recipe and what better time to make it than Easter! You know, carrots… bunnies… Easter… theres a link somewhere in there right?! I modelled this cake after one I saw in Pinterest, just changing the cake base to carrot instead of vanilla! This is a time consuming project so if you’re free this Easter weekend, this is the perfect thing to make! All you’ll need is:

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom (optional)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cup grated carrots
  • 1  14oz can crushed pineapple
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Method:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

Butter and flour 2 9″ cake pans and line them with parchment. Grate your carrots in a large mixing bowl with your drained crushed pineapple. Mix your carrot and pineapple mixture with all of your wet ingredients: buttermilk, eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla. In a separate bowl sift together your dry ingredients: all purpose flour, sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, baking soda and salt.  Mix thoroughly with a whisk and make sure every thing is evenly distributed (better to mix well before it makes contact with wet ingredients, the more you stir when everything is wet, the tougher your dough will get). Incorporate your dry ingredients into your wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Pour your batter in your prepared cake pans evenly! Bake in the middle rack of your oven for 30 minutes. While the cakes are in the oven I like to make my cream cheese frosting!

Ingredients:

  • 1  8oz package of soft cream cheese
  • 1 cup soft butter
  • 4 cups of confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • yellow food colour gel

Method:

Whip together your butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment for 4 minutes. Your goal is a soft fluffy consistency. When you believe you have the right consistency add your sifted confectioners sugar and stir on low for 2 minutes gradually increasing the speed to high. Now whip your icing high for another 4 minutes to make sure you have an airy frosting! If your frosting is too thick or hard to spread, feel free to add 1-2 tablespoons of milk and mix for another few minutes until creamy. I took out about 1/4 of the icing for the inner layers of my cake and left the remainder in the mixer. Now add a few drops of yellow food gel and vanilla and mix till combined.

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Poke the centre of the cake with a toothpick and if it comes out clean you’re all set. Let the cakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes and transfer them to a cooling rack. A tip is to never ice or cut your cake when its warm, the icing will just melt off and the cakes will be too soft to cut cleanly. Patience is key! When your cake is fully cooled, I like to trip off the top with a serrated bread knife so you have an even surface to work with. Ice your cake and decorate however you desire! I put a pattern on mine with Cadbury Mini Eggs, I thought it turned out pretty good!

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Enjoy!