Monday, December 28, 2009

Gnocchi with Bolognese Sauce

I hope you have all enjoyed Christmas, I know I do too. Since most of my friends are out of town for two weeks, I'm still here in Montreal, extending my culinary skills, discovering new ingredients and doing lab works. For now, I will be doing the cooking at home. Recently on Foodbuzz, there were quite some recipes using gnocchi and for a while, I wanted to make something with gnocchi. Gnocchi is an ingredient originally from Italy, you can think of as a potato-based dumplings. Like pasta, it can be served in any sauce. This recipe is taken from Robert's Recipes.

Serves 6
Preparation Time : 15 mins
Cooking Time : 40 mins
Printable Recipe


500g lean ground beef
1 large onions
3 minced cloves of garlic
1 red pepper, cubed
5-6 white button mushrooms, sliced
1 28oz. can diced tomatoes
1 14oz. can tomato sauce
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp Italian seasonings
salt and pepper
1 package (500g) of gnocchi


1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until transparent. Add in garlic and cook until fragrant.

2. Add ground beef and cook until it starts to turn brown. Add pepper and mushroom, continue to cook until pepper is tender. Drain off excess fats.

3. Add diced tomatoes and their liquid, tomato sauce, bay leaves and seasonings. Bring to boil and reduce to low heat. Continue cooking for 30-40 mins until the sauce becomes thick and liquid evaporates.

4. Meanwhile, cook gnocchi in a pot of boiling water. The gnocchi are ready when it starts floating.

5. Transfer gnocchi to Bolognese sauce. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Attempted Yule Log - Bûche de Noël

Finally, Christmas is here! I wish you all Happy Holidays and lots of delicious meals during the Holidays!

What a great opportunity to bake a traditional French dessert, the Yule log or en bon français, Bûche de Noël. After succesfully baked a three-layered cake, I attempt at making a Yule log. The recipe is inspired from Good Housekeeping Step by Step Cookbook. This is actually the first time I'm using ingredients such as icing sugar for frosting and 35% whipping cream for the filling. As you probably can see on the main image, it looks more or less like a Yule log. I basically made two mistakes, overbeating the chocolate frosting and rolling the cooled genoise so it was partially broken. Well, there is always next Christmas. Despite these mistakes, it tasted really good, especially the cocoa cream filling.

Makes 1 cake
Preparation Time : 1 hour 30 mins + cooling + chilling
Baking Time : 10-15 mins
Printable Recipe


2 jelly rolls (13'' x 9'')

Chocolate Butter Cream
170g Baker's bittersweet chocolate
3/4 cup butter
2 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cocoa Cream Filling
1 pint (2 cups) 35% whipping cream
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract


1. After baking and loosen the genoise, immediately roll the cake with a towel or parchment paper starting from the long side. Let it cool.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the Chocolate Butter Cream. Melt chocolate and butter over simmering water. Whisk and gradually add icing sugar and vanilla extract. Beat until frosting consistency, don't overbeat it. Set aside.

3. Prepare cocoa cream filling. In large bowl, with an electrical mixer, beat whipping cream, cocoa, cinnamon, icing sugar and vanilla extract to stiff peaks.

4. Unroll genoise, spread with cocoa cream. Roll genoise without towel and place on a platter.

5. With a metal spatula, spread Chocolate Butter Cream over cake roll. With a fork, score frosting to resemble bark of tree. Refrigerate cake for at least 2 hours before serving.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Funky Pear Bites

I am very glad that we have more and more people joining our cooking sessions, introducting new culture. For a month now, my friend Mathieu has invited two of his friends (Carlos, a Brazilian and Loreleï, a French) since then, they started to come to our cooking sessions.

Since we were a lot that day, appetizers are a must to keep the guest entertain. I said to some of them to make a short-and-simple dish. So, Carlos chose to make funky pear bites (his choice of title, not mine). The joy of cooking in groups is to learn from others such as ingredients that you never thought that they can go together. This appetizer, I never thought that the pear/goat chesse can be paired to make a delicious appetizer.

Preparation Time : 10 mins
Baking Time : less 10 mins
Printable Recipe


1 fresh baguette
2 packages soft goat cheese
4 ripe bosc pears
herbes de Provence


1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Cut baguette into 1-inch slices. Cut bosc pears into same length as the sliced baguette with thickness of 1/2-inch.

3. Spread goat cheese on each sliced baguette and top with a cut pear. Sprinkle with herbes de Provence.

4. Bake for 5-10 mins or until golden. Remove immediately.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Beef Stroganoff

Back for a second year of blogging, hope you have all enjoyed reading my long 1st blogiversary post. During the celebration, we obviously didn't just eat cakes, we also had main dishes and appetizers. Let's first start with the dish made from our Australian colleague. Beef Stroganoff is a dish from Russia which is sauteed beef served in a sour cream based sauce. This dish is quickly done using the tenderest beef.

Serves 6
Preparation Time : 5 mins
Cooking Time : 15 mins
Printable Recipe


500g beef tenderloin, cut into thin strips
250g button mushrooms, sliced or quartered
1 large onion, chopped
Salt and pepper
1-2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp dry tarragon or 2 tbsp fresh tarragon


1. In a large skillet, melt 1 tbsp of butter over medium heat. Sauté beef until browned on all sides, 3-4 mins. Transfer to a plate.

2. In the same skillet, add onions and cook until transparent. Set aside.

3. Melt another tbsp of butter and sauté mushrooms until golden brown. Add in the beef strips and onion.

4. Turn heat to low, add sour cream, dijon mustard, tarragon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir until uniformly coated. Serve immediately with rice such as Mexican rice or egg noodles.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

1st Blogiversary - 3-Layer Graphene Cake

Random Cuisine is celebrating its first-year blog anniversary. I never thought it would be possible to share over 120 recipes, receive at least 50 viewers per day and manage to subscribe 200 viewers throughtout the year while attending graduate school. I manage at this point to organize and lead over 35 cooking sessions. 50 friends and colleagues has joined this project separated into 4 cooking groups. Finally, this project manages to teach 10 people how to become confident cooks. I'm glad to say that this project has been a great success. I would like to thank to all people who came at least one of the cooking sessions and support in writing this blog. A special thank to my uncle who has showed me how baking is as simple as 1-2-3 and my aunt on how to make the cooking sessions more entertaining. I hope I have inspired you viewers to start a similar project like this. You only need to start with a small group, find the people who are willing to lend their place and invite more and more people to join the cooking sessions. One last thing, I was surprised that the Montreal Food Blogger community has found out about my blog and I'm happy to be part of this warm and welcoming group, so a BIG thanks to you all.

Throughout the year, some dishes tasted good, some tasted not so good (which are not posted here), some tasted great, some tasted really good, and some are simply outstanding. Here are the top 15 picks chosen by friends, colleagues and viewers in no order of preference :

1.  Assorted Mushroom Dumplings
2.  Summer Berry Medley
3.  Gluten-Free Coconut Macaroons
4.  Red Wine Sauce for Roast Beef
5.  Coconut Flan
6.  Mussels Marinières - Top 9 Foodbuzz Pick
7.  Sandwich Roll-Ups à la Jorge
8.  Alambre
9.  Eggplant Parmigiana
10. Shrimp Grapefruit Salad
11. Avgolemono Soup
12. Sanbei Chicken
13. Mini Prosciutto Frittatas
14. Sour Cream Doughnuts and Doughbits
15. Enchiladas de Mole

Top 3 themes :

1. Vegetarian Cuisine Night : Assorted Mushroom Dumplings, Cremini Mushroom Risotto, Moist and Healthy Muffin

2. The Ultimate Breakfast - Banana Pancakes, Pain Perdu, Blueberry Sauce, Soy Milk with Horchata

3. Asian Cuisine Night : Corn and Crab Meat Soup, Salt and Pepper Shrimp, Ma Po Tofu, Spicy Squid

Now, let's move on to the next question, why are there 3 cakes on the primary image? The two cakes at the bottom are for my birthday (Fruit Cake, bottom left) which coincides on the same day as my blogiversary and for my Mexican friend, Mon (Mango Mousse Cake, bottom right) which we decided to celebrate hers 2 weeks in advance. I was organizing a surprise cake for her, she thought that the cake I was making was meant for her. I decided to accumulate enough money from friends and colleagues to buy the surprise cake. I was so surprised that we have enough money to buy 2 cakes, showing how much we care and love her. Despite the number of close information leaks and accidental hints, we managed to surprise her. Happy Birthday, Mon! Kudos to all friends and colleagues who went along with the plan and to all who contributed the cakes.

The cake on the top of the image is for the first-year anniversary of my baby blog. Since I started food blogging, I had one thing in mind that I wish to fulfill : to bake from scratch with no shortcuts a multilayer cake with homemade frosting. I revealed my plans for a coconut cake among a few colleagues, some decided that it should have multiple flavours for each layer and my friend, Mathieu was joking about making a graphene cake. So basically I took this as a challenge. For the non-scientistific readers, graphene is not a food ingredient, it is what I am currently working on for the past few years in my research. In short, it is basically a sheet of carbon which has a honeycomb crystal structure. These sheets can be stacked to make graphite which is found in your pencil. Here is how a graphene stacking looks like, this will form the basis of the cake.

I have thought of making this cake unique, I wanted to detach each honeycomb "tower" from the cake without any cutting and serve it as one. If you can't see how, it will be shown pictorially. Enough chit chat, I'm dying to show you how we succesfully made this cake. It took us about 4-5 hours to make it and we were constantly beating egg whites and running the kitchen. The heat of the kitchen was hot hot hot, despite the cold weather in Montreal. The cake consists of three flavoured layers (vanilla, chocolate and lemon respectively) and coconut frosting in between the layers and on the top.

As in the scientific world, I have to write down all the names who contributed to the graphene cake : Victor Y., David J. O., Yony B., Monserratt L., Michel S.,Carlos G., Chris W., Jorge D., Fernando S., Lizbel L., Mathieu C.

Here is a close-up of the graphene cake.

What do you think, isn't that a masterpiece? Here is the recipe of all the components of the cake.

Coconut Frosting
Preparation Time : about 10 mins
Printable Recipe


2 large egg whites
pinch cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup coconut milk
300g shredded sweetened coconut


1. Place egg whites, cream of tartar and salt into a medium bowl. Beat egg whites over simmering water with an electrical mixer and add sugar gradually. Beat until firm peaks.

2. Fold in the coconut milk and shredded coconut into the egg whites. Refrigerate for at least 30 mins.

Vanilla and Lemon Cake Layers (1st and 3rd layer)
Makes 1 layer
Preparation Time : 15 mins
Baking Time : 10-15 mins
Printable Recipe


4 eggs, separated
pinch cream of tartar
2/3 cup white sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 oz. lukewarm water
2 oz. vegetable or olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract for 1st layer / juice of l lemon for 3rd layer


1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line parchment paper onto a 13'' x 9'' bakng pan. Oil bottom of the paper.

2. Beat egg yolks with water and oil.

3. Beat egg whites with cream of tartar. Add sugar gradually and beat until firm peaks. Fold egg whites into egg yolk mixture.

4. Add lemon juice or vanilla extract to the batter and gradually fold in the flour.

5. Transfer batter into the prepared pan. Spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake for 10-15 mins or until cake springs back.

6. Cool for 5-10 mins. Using a hexagonal-shaped mould, press it onto the cake. Remove parchment paper and let your guess eat the unnecessary part of the cake.

Preparation Time : 10 mins


1 cup milk
1 tbsp lemon juice or white vinegar


1. In a measuring cup, combine all ingredients and let it stand for 10 mins.

Simple Chocolate Cake Layer
Makes 1 layer
Preparation Time : 25 mins
Baking Time : 25 mins


50g Baker's bittersweet chocolate (purple box)
2/3 cup butter
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tbsp cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line parchment paper onto a 13'' x 9'' baking pan. Oil bottom of the paper.

2. In a large saucepan, melt chocolate and butter in 1 cup of hot water.

3. Remove from heat and add gradually flour and sugar, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. Mix well with whisk.

4. Stir in buttermilk, eggs and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth.

5. Pour batter onto the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 mins or until it springs back.

6. Cool for 5-10 mins. Using a hexagonal-shaped mould, press it onto the cake. Remove parchment paper.

Cake Assembly

1. Use a large cardboard and envelop with aluminium foil and wax paper. This will be used as a support for the cake.

2. Place the vanilla layer on the board and spread the top with coconut frosting.

3. Align the chocolate layer with the vanilla layer and spread with coconut frosting.

4. Align the lemon layer with the chocolate layer. Spread the top with the frosting.

5. Refrigerate cake for at least 30 mins.

6. Serve by detaching a hexagonal tower as shown below. No cutting required.

The structure stayed intact after detaching 9 cake towers. Impressive isn't?

This is the longest post I have ever written, I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog. I will continue writing about food until the next blogiversary. Let me know in the comments section, what dishes did you like the most and what did you like about my blog?

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Along with Sukiyaki, we had a little taste of Korea. This dish is made by a Korean friend. Tteokbokki might be hard word to pronounce to most people. This means in good English - spicy ricecake casserole. It is a popular street food in Korea and really enjoyed eating it. Some of the ingredients here can usually be found in Asian market.

Serves 3-4
Preparation Time : 20 mins
Cooking Time : 15 mins
Printable Recipe


10-15 rice cake sticks, cut in half
1 onion, diced
2 green onions, cut into thirds
2 fish cakes, cut into 1/4-inch
3 garlic, chopped
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp honey
1-2 tbsp red pepper paste
chili powder (optional)
1 hard-boiled egg per person
Black sesame seeds for garnish


1. In a medium bowl, soak into hot water for about 20 minutes to make it slightly sticky.

2. In a medium pot, boil 1 cup of water and add rice cakes, fish cakes, onion, green onions, garlic.

3. Add in soy sauce, brown sugar, honey, red pepper paste and chili powder. Cook until rice cakes become soft and chewy, and sauce becomes thick.

4. Turn off heat. Serve in a bowl and sprinkle with black sesame seeds. Add a hard-boiled egg to the dish.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Ever wonder how in Japanese restaurant make such great sukiyaki sauce. The sauce is simply as 1-2-3. You can easily find all the ingredients needed in any Asian supermarket. Sukiyaki is known under Japanese Hot Pot, unlike the Chinese Hot Pot, the ingredients are cooked in the sauce before serving.

This recipe comes from a YouTube video called Cooking with Dog, a Japanese woman cooking Japanese dishes along with her dog. If you ever wonder how to cook them, these are THE videos.

Preparation Time : 10 mins
Cooking Time : 35 mins
Printable Recipe


3 firm tofu
1 leek, greens removed
6 shitake mushrooms
6 white button mushrooms
2 Korean fish cakes
1/2 lb short ribs, separated into individual ribs
5 leaves of nappa

Sukiyaki sauce
1/2 cup sake
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar


1. Cut tofu into 1/2-inch slices, shitake mushrooms and button mushrroms into quarters, nappa and leek into 2-inch slices.

2. In a large soup pot, combine all the ingredients for the sukiyaki sauce and stir until sugar dissolved.

3. Boil sauce and add in all the remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer for 30 mins or until all the ingredients are cooked.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

My first year blog anniversary is coming very soon in 10 days. I'm right now thinking on what to cook and what theme I should adopt to make this event a success. I managed to invite 10 people and hopefully more can come.

On paella night, this recipe was done based on a muffin recipe and try to bake it on a bread pan. It turns out to be pretty good.

Makes 1 bread or 12 muffins
Preparation Time : 15 mins
Baking Time : 25 mins
Printable Recipe


4 riped bananas
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly butter and flour bread pan or 12 muffin cups.

2. In a large bowl, mash bananas with a fork. Add egg, milk, sugar and oil, beat until smooth.

3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually incorporate into liquid mixture with a rubber spatula.

4. Transfer batter to the bread pan or fill muffin pans 2/3 full.

5. Bake for 25 mins or until it passes the toothpick test. Rotate pan midway.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Daikon Soup with Short Ribs

It has been a while I haven't posted anything about Asian food since last October and I'm pretty sure you readers are looking forward for my next Asian recipe. This recipe is a classic winter comfort soup that is easy to assemble. However, it takes quite some time to cook. For the vegetarian version, water is substituted for vegetable broth and obviously, the ribs are omitted.

Serves 4
Preparation Time : 5 mins
Cooking Time : 1 hour 45 mins
Printable Recipe


1 lb short ribs, separated into individual ribs
4 cups water
1 large daikon


1. In a medium pot,  place ribs in water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and remove scum from the top of the liquid. Simmer for about an hour or until almost tender.

2. Meanwhile, peel and slice daikon into 1'' thick rounds, then into quarters.

3. Add daikon to the soup, and simmer for 45 more mins or until daikon and ribs are tender. Add salt to taste. Serve.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Gluten Free Coconut Macaroons

When I heard about gluten-free products, I thought it was a way for food industry to make more money. Once I heard from someone who is gluten intolerance, it is very serious matter and I was surprised that 15% of the population is affected.

I received this recipe from a visiting Swiss couple who started their research recently in physics. I was glad that they shared this recipe because these best macaroons are the best without the use of flour. Usually, in macaroons, flour is a required ingredient. For those are who in a gluten-free diet, you can finally taste something that is baked. I'm usually the type who loves to share food to hard-working students when I make extras at home. Everyone enjoyed it. This recipe consists of simply 5 ingredients and I baked myself to make sure that it tastes good.

Makes 32 macaroons
Preparation Time : 10 mins
Baking Time : 15-20 mins
Printable Recipe


3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
3 tbsp lemon juice
250g sweetened shredded coconut (small or medium-sized)


1. Preheat oven to 325F. Line a parchment paper on a 11'' x 17'' baking pan.

2. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, sugar and salt. Beat until foamy and all the sugar is dissolved.

3. Add in the shredded coconut and lemon juice. Let it soak for 10 mins. If using unsweetened shredded cocunut, add an additional 3 tbsp sugar.

4. Scoop a tablespoonful of soaked coconut and transfer it to the baking pan.

5. Bake for 15-20 mins or until golden.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Quick Candied Yams

I hope all of you Americans enjoyed Thanksgiving. Even though we are Canadian, we do have at least one American friend, so we celebrated Thanksgiving for my American friend. A few weeks ago, she introduced me to a side dish known as candied yams, basically yams in syrup topped with marshmallows. I was very curious about this dish that she decided to make for Thanksgiving. I am very impressed on how good it tasted. This is a quick side dish to bake where canned yams are used. If you do have time, you can use yams and cook until soft and follow the recipe.

Serves 4
Preparation Time : 5 mins
Cooking Time : 15-20 mins
Printable Recipe


1 can yams or sweet potatoes, drained
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar


1. Preheat oven to 375F.

2. In a saucepan, melt butter and gradually add sugar to make a syrup.

3. Place drained yams in a baking dish. Pour syrup and cover with marshmallows.

4. Bake until marshmallows become golden and crispy. Serve as a side dish.

Seafood Paella

Paella... this is the first time that I heard and ate paella made by my Taiwanese friend. I'm not sure how paella should really taste like, but this paella tasted so good that I cannot stop eating.

Serves 6
Preparation Time : 30 mins
Cooking Time : 1 hour
Printable Recipe


1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 sausages, cut into pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp fresh thyme
4 ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 1/2 cups short-grain white rice
pinch saffron threads soaked in 2 cups water
5 cups chicken or fish stock
1 kg mussels
1 lb white fish fillets
10 oz. uncooked prawns, deveined
8 oz. scallops
3 squid tubes
1 tbsp fresh parsley


1. Cut fish into 1-inch pieces and squid into 1/2-inch tubes.

2. On large paella pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, sausages and thyme, cook until onions are transparent, about 5 mins. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.

3. Add tomatoes and stir for about 5 mins.

4. Add rice and cook, stirring until translucent, about 4 mins. Stir in saffron mixture and stock, and bring to simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until the rice has absorbed almost all of the liquid.

5. Add mussels, cover and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add in fish, prawns and scallops and cook for 2-3 mins. Stir in squid and parsley and cook until seafood is cooked and mussels open.


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