Homemade Chinese Fish Balls…The Way They Should Be Made

Fish balls are a staple in many Asian homes. In Hong Kong they are a popular street food. There are as many fish ball stands in Hong Kong as there are hot dog stands in North America. They can be eaten on their own, fried, boiled, with noodles, in curry, in hot pots, on skewers, barbecued or any way you can think of cooking them! All ways are delicious!

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As delicious as they are, it shocked me when I looked into what ingredients were used in most store-bought and restaurant-served fish balls. If you read my earlier fish ball post, you’ll recall all the details. If you missed it, you can check it out by clicking here. It also includes a recipe for a healthy alternative to the traditional Asian fish balls (crispy pan-fried fish balls).

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I’ve received a lot of comments and requests for me to post a recipe for homemade, traditional, Chinese fish balls. So, as I promised a few months ago, I did some research and tried it out on my own. Making your own fish balls, or fish paste, obviously takes more time and effort than opening a frozen package from the store, but it’s definitely worth the effort if you want your food fresh, preservative-free and without added fillers in the ingredients. Continue reading

Balsamic Reduction: Make It Fancy In Minutes!

Making balsamic reduction is one of the quickest ways I can think of to spruce up your cooking. A balsamic reduction is simply the process of boiling down balsamic vinegar. The result is a wonderful syrup that can be used in sweet and savoury dishes alike. Takes only minutes to make, and can be used in so many ways.  Make the transformation from regular home chef to culinary pro!

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A simple balsamic reduction adds elegance and a beautiful sweetness to leafy greens, and goes especially well with goat cheese and pistachios or other nuts. Dress up your salad with this classic dressing! It also pairs sensationally with tomato salads or strawberries in desserts. Can be used as a thicker topping for meats, fish and vegetables, or a thinner version can be used as a glaze for fish or roasts. So versatile! A simple balsamic reduction can add oomph to any dish that uses balsamic vinegar!

It adds an AMAZING touch to a simple Italian Caprese salad, which is what you will see here in my photos. I’ve also included the Caprese salad recipe in this post. 🙂 Continue reading

A Classic Mignonette: An Oystergirl’s Best Friend

They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but a girl like me would have to say that there are far better things in life than diamonds. For me, this list includes oysters. Some of the most beautiful things in the world come from the sea, a whole different world full of colours and life and secrets that will never be revealed to us. Oysters, to me, are the secrets of the ocean contained. Each beautiful shell unique and carrying the smell, the taste and the stories of the sea.

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If you don’t know by now, oysters are one of my favourite things in the world. They are not only a favourite food, they are an astoundingly complex and interesting species to study. I could spend days discussing my love for oysters and all the good they bring to this world. If you’d like to hear more about that, for the love of oysters, click here!

If you love eating these briny beauties as much as I do, you must know that going out to an oyster bar can start to get expensive. Shucking them yourself is lots of fun (if you know how) and a great money saver! I’ll seriously warn you though, please shuck carefully! You don’t want to hurt yourself! If you’re in Toronto (Ontario, Canada), I recommend contacting Oysterboy to do a shucking class! Lots to learn, and lots of fun!

Shucking your own oysters has lots of benefits! You save money, you can enjoy oysters in the comfort of your own home (or whatever environment you please) and you can impress friends and family at get togethers or family gatherings. Oysters are great for any occasion!

There’s nothing better than a freshly shucked oyster eaten as is, but I do like to play around with different flavours so I always have my go-to sauces and oyster-sidekicks available. Continue reading

Autumn Apple Maple French Toast

Fall is such a gorgeous season. The weather begins to cool and leaves begin to turn wondrous shades of red, orange and yellow. I wake to a crisp, still morning air and fall asleep under warm, toasty covers. Each deep autumn breath carries the faint aroma of hot apple cider and warm cinnamon. It’s a season of harvest, coziness and sweaters; a season of warm ovens and warmer hearts. Each day is full of rich colour and the smell of hot bubbling pies, freshly baked and ready to be devoured.

This is my first official fall post this year and a perfect time to share this amazing apple brunch creation I made yesterday. I went apple picking near Collingwood, Ontario last week with my family and brought back a half bushel of McIntosh and Cortland apples with me. I’ve been spending the past few days thinking of ways to use them all. The funniest part about this is that I am slightly allergic to apples so I don’t really eat them myself (once in a while, if I can’t resist).

The classic French toast I was going to make on a Saturday afternoon, became something so much more delicious…and pretty. I took a couple of my fresh-picked apples and made apple maple French toast. Sauteing apples in butter and maple syrup turns them into a sweet, warm, caramelized apple topping to spoon over vanilla cinnamon French toast. Continue reading

The Best Kale Recipe: Fritters!

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Kale is the new black. (At least I think it kind of still is…) I’ve never seen a leafy green so in-fashion! A few years ago, when I first heard rumours of this new “thing”, everyone was talking about it. “Kale is SO good!”, “Have you tried kale?”, “Superfood!”, “Nutrients!”, “Kale saves lives!”. It was all around me. Kale salad, kale smoothies, kale chips, sauteed kale…everyone in the world, it seemed, was being kale-ified. Of course I had to taste this veggie for myself!

Kale is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the Brassica family, a group of veggies including cabbage and brussels sprouts. I always say it looks like huge, curly spinach. It’s a little bit tougher, and some say it has a bit more of a bitter flavour. It has been called a superfood and one of the healthiest foods in the world. It is packed with nutrients and has a ton of health benefits, while also low in calories. Here’s a top 10 list of kale health benefits.

Kale can be eaten raw or cooked. I absolutely love it (although I don’t think there’s a single vegetable that I don’t love). The problem I had with kale was that I didn’t know a lot of kale recipes. I never knew what else I could do with it, other than sauteeing it with garlic or making a salad. I mean, I love kale salad, but there’s got to be other ways to eat this stuff… And I found out that there definitely are! Here is one of my new kale favourites! Delicious kale fritters! Flavourful and full of kale (and spicy if you want). They’re so hard to resist! Continue reading

Indonesian Chicken Soup For The Mind, Body and Soul

We all have our bad days. Days where you have too many questions and not enough answers. Days when your mind feels full and empty at the same time. Days when you’re sick, tired, or both. Sometimes we need a moment to see the light; something to intervene our thoughts. A great intervention: chicken soup. Soup is an amazing answer to any question, no matter how big or small. It can be an equally good addition to a good day, cold day, lazy day or busy day all the same. Soup clears your mind, fills your insides, warms your heart and brings a smile to your face.

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“Anyone who tells a lie has not a pure heart, and cannot make a good soup.”
~ Ludwig van Beethoven

It may be my Asian upbringing, but there is nothing better than a hot bowl of noodles and soup. The breakfast, lunch or dinner of champions! The best soup noodles are homemade. You take the time to make a delicious broth and the rest comes easily. The noodles take no time at all, and you can quickly add simple toppings. I make batches of broths to freeze. That way, there’s always a bowl of hot noodle soup waiting to be made in a flash. Continue reading

Tomato Salad In A Snap!

There is no better time than tomato season to enjoy tomatoes. Everywhere I look, my friends and family are harvesting their crop and bragging about how good their tomatoes taste. My father started a vegetable garden last year and is growing all sorts of tomato varieties. He planted so many he doesn’t even know what to do with them all! And so, of course, I have a never-ending supply of sweet, ripe tomatoes coming to me. I have to say, these homegrown tomatoes are the best I’ve ever had!

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Take advantage of the delicious tomatoes in season and enjoy them in a simple salad! Tomato salads have always been a staple in my home, and I have my father to thank for it. He is the man always on a quest for the freshest, ripest, sweetest tomatoes, and was the one who first showed me this recipe. (I’m sure this is how I developed my love for balsamic vinegar.)

This is the easiest salad to make. It uses only a few ingredients, and takes minutes to make. Continue reading

Lobster Linguine With Saffron & Cream

I almost jump at every opportunity to use saffron in my cooking. I have an unexplained love for it’s delicate strands, gorgeous colour, and subtle earthy flavour. Saffron is harvested from the Crocus sativus flower, a member of the Iris family. Cultivated for thousands of years in Asia Minor, it is used in perfumes, dyes, medicine and, of course, for its wonderful flavour in food and drinks. There’s something so beautiful about the deep maroon shade of the strands and the rich golden yellow that comes from the tip of the thread (from which the saffron spice is derived.) It makes me smile from the inside out. 🙂

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“According to Greek mythology, handsome mortal Crocos fell in love with the beautiful nymph Smilax. But alas, his favors were rebuffed by Smilax, and he was turned into a beautiful purple crocus flower.” (about.com)

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Here is the crocus flower that saffron comes from. So pretty!

This dinner all began with a request for lobster tagliatelle. I didn’t know where to begin, so I began where I always do…the recipe hunt. I was looking for simple recipes that required ingredients I already had at home. (Minus the lobster of course.) I found a few seafood tagliatelle recipes that I liked, but stuck with this one as a guideline, making my own alterations here and there based on what I wanted to make and the ingredients I had available at home. The result was a lobster linguine in a light creamy sauce. Delicious! Continue reading

Keep It Simple, Silly! Simple Crepes For Any Occasion

Since I was a child, crepes have been one of my favourite desserts. I loved how sweet and egg-y my mother used to make them. I’d eat them faster than she could make them, and I wouldn’t stop eating until she stopped flipping them off the pan onto my plate. I’ve now come to realize, after having tried so many savoury crepes, that they don’t always have to be sweet. These delicate pancakes are simple, easy to make and extremely versatile. You can use any toppings you like! Sweet or savoury!

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I had a crepe craving last night and now that I don’t live with the legendary crepe-making mama, I decided to figure out how to make them (or something like them) on my own. I discovered that they are easier than I thought! The beauty of a crepe is in its simplicity. Simple ingredients and simple preparation. Sometimes enjoying something as simple as a plain sweet crepe is just what you need.  Continue reading

Rolo Chocolate Pretzel Sammies. You’re welcome.

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This post is going to be short and SWEET.

I don’t eat sweets very often, but I know a yummy treat when I see one, smell one or wolf down a serving meant for ten people without even noticing. I’ve never been a huge fan of chocolate covered pretzels. The ones I’ve had always seem dry, and stale, and boring. BUTTT, these little Rolo pretzel sandwiches are the complete opposite. They create the perfect salty-sweet balance and the caramel Rolo centres add a beautiful sticky sweetness to them. The best chocolate pretzels I’ve ever had! Continue reading