Friday, October 30, 2009

Hot Pot - Chinese Fondue

A few weeks ago, my Taiwanese friend thought of organizing a hot pot, a great economical idea. The idea here is that everyone bring whatever leftover they have in their fridge and share it with others. The concept of hot pot is very simple. A pot of simmering water or broth is found at the middle of the table. Basically, you place a few uncooked ingredients in a wired or slotted spoon and cook in the pot. Any ingredients can be put in a hot pot as long they do not take too long (more than 5 mins) to cook.

That day, we brought 3 new students to our cooking gather up. Two exchange students and my neighbour lab physicist. We were in total 10 people for the hot pot, it is probably the largest group we ever had since the first organization of the collective cooking since last October... hmmm...I just realize while writing this post that it has been now a year of collective cooking organization. Wow, what an accomplishment!

Okay, back to the fondue, the cooked ingredients are usually eaten with a dipping sauce. There are two popular dipping sauce that my family uses everytime we have a hot pot : ginger sauce and oyster-soy sauce.
For the oyster-soy sauce, mix 1:1 oyster sauce : soy sauce. Serve on ramekin or dipping bowls for each person.

Anyone can organize a hot pot at their home, all you need is an electrical pot or portable stove. Add water with herbs or broth in the pot, boil and then bring it to a simmer. The liquid can start spicy, peppery, salty, barbecuey or any combination of flavour, so get your guests entertain.

As you can in all the pictures here, there were lots and lots of food and we did not managed to finish them all. Here is a list of what food people brought :

- Cuttlefish, fish, prawn, squid, vegetable, beef balls
- Fried and unfried Tofu
- Thin slices of pork, beef and lamb
- Lots of vegetable : nappa, lettuce, broccoli
- Precooked dumplings
- Shrimps, scallops and clams
- Rice noodle

The special part of the event is at the end when everyone is full. The liquid becomes a soup, you can taste all the food that were dipped since the beginning of the evening. All in all, we had a great time. I hope this post will help you readers to organize chinese fondue night.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Roasted Chicken

When I came back home from work around 7pm, the first thing that my brother said : "I'm so hungry!". There was an unfrozen whole chicken at the sink, neither me nor my bro knew how to cook a whole chicken, probably it was the fear to overcook or dry the chicken. However, both of us can easily cook chicken wings and chicken breast. I said to myself, I have to cook a whole chicken at least once in my life and I manage to do. It was the juiciest chicken I had ever tasted. The simplest cooking method is by roasting. I also made a gravy out of it too since we had some chicken stock left in our fridge from the risotto I made last week. So, there is nothing to fear about cooking chicken, if you cook it correctly, it should be all fine.

Serves 4-6
Preparation Time : 15 mins
Cooking Time : 1 hour 5 mins
Printable Recipe


1 whole chicken, wishbone removed
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter or margarine
1/2 cup water
Salt and pepper


1. Preheat oven to 425F.

2. In a roasting pan, drizzle chicken with oil, then rub on the butter. Season with salt and pepper inside and outside of the chicken.

3. Place chicken, breast facing up. Pour in the water, and put the roasting pan into the middle of the oven. Roast for 15 mins, then reduce heat to 375F. Roast for 25 mins longer.

4. Remove from oven and baste chicken with the juices in the pan. Turn over onto its breast. Baste the chicken again, then continue roasting for 25 mins.

5. Turn the chicken onto its back and test for doneness. Insert a toothpick or skewer to parts that are less likely to be cooked through such as the thigh or thick end of the breast. If there are traces of blood, continue cooking after 10 mins and test again.

6. Carve chicken.

 Quick chicken gravy


Chicken drippings from roasted chicken
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/4 cup chicken stock or water


1. Using a large spoon, skim off the fat from the pan juices. Put roasting pan on the stove over low heat. Mix 2 tbsp of cornstarch with 1 tbsp chicken fat. Whisk it with the remaining pan juices.

2. Add chicken stock or water, increase heat and bring to a boil, whisking constantly.

3. Strain gravy into a clean bowl. Serve with roasted chicken.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

EnRoute Magazine : Canada's Best New Restaurant 2009

For those who will be using Air Canada in the month of November, you will see the enRoute Magazine's Food Issue in the airplane seat's pocket. The food issue is written once a year in the month of November. In this issue, you will find the Top 10 new restaurants across Canada selected by a panel of chefs, food writers and critics. You will also find inside this issue a directory of  fine restaurants recommanded by EnRoute since 2002. The Canada's Best New Restaurant 2009 will be revealed on October 28th on Canada AM at 9:00AM. Don't miss it and spread the words!

If you're interested in taking a peek of the past issues, below you will see the cover of the 2007 and 2008 November issue.

Luckily, Montreal restaurants were part of the Top 10 in both years. Can Montreal be in the Top 10 again?


4th place - Bistro Bienville, 4650 rue Mentana


2nd place - Le Local, 740, rue William
9th place - Liverpool House, 2501, rue Notre-Dame O.

Update October 29,2009 : For Canada's Best New Restaurant 2009, two Montreal restaurants have made the Top 10.

6th place - Au Pied du Cochon, 11382, rang de La Fresnière, Saint-Benoît de Mirabel
10th place - La Salle à Manger, 1302, av. du Mont-Royal E.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pumpkin Pie

Geez... when was Thanksgiving Day? I can't believe I am still blogging about food from Thanksgiving. Pumpkins are on special and so many possible dishes can be made out of this. So, my Tawanese friend bought a huge pumpkin and this took a lot of space in his fridge. The pumpkie pie tasted really good and everyone enjoyed it. You can use a can of pumpkin purée or homemade pumpkin purée.

Makes 1 pie
Preparation Time : 15 mins
Roasting Time for pumpkin purée : about 45 mins - 1 hour (optional)
Baking Time : 50 mins
Printable Recipe


2 eggs
1 3/4 cup pumpkin purée
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp grated ginger
1 pinch salt
3/4 cup evaporated
1 unbaked pie shell


1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. For pumpkin purée, use a 2-lb pumpkin to yield about 2 cups of purée. Line aluminium foil on the baking pan and place cubed pumpkin on baking pan. Roast pumpkin for 45 mins - 1 hour until tender.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the pie dough. Roll out the dough onto a 9'' pie plate. Line shell with aluminium foil and fill with pie weights such as uncooked rice and dry beans. Leave it for a few mins and remove the aluminium foil and weights.

4. Once pumpkin are tender, purée using a food processor or blender.

5. Preheat oven to 425F.

6. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, evaporated milk, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt until dissolved. Stir in the pumpkin purée.

7. Pour pumpkin mixture onto the pie shell.

8. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the heat down to 350F and bake for 30-35 mins until golden brown.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Red Wine Sauce for Roast Beef

I hope you have enjoyed Canadian Thanksgiving and ate lots and lots of turkey. Every year, my mother makes the juiciest turkey ever, however, she forgot to buy a turkey for this Thanksgiving. I missed eating her turkey. There is always American Thanksgiving, even thought we are Canadians. As every year, we have a family reunion in which families from all over Canada reunite in Montreal to have Thanksgiving dinner.

Since I can't break family tradition, I decided to organize a "Thanksgiving Eve Dinner" with friends, collegues and my bro on Sunday. Cooking turkey takes a long time to be done, so I ended buying roast beef since it was on special. I won't go into details on the cooking steps as I blogged about roast beef on December 2008, here are some useful informations.

Approximate roasting time for room-temperature roast beef at 350F :

Rare - 17-19 mins per pound
Medium Rare - 20-22 mins per pound
Medium Well - 23-25 mins per pound
Well Done - 30 mins per pound

Using a meat thermometer, the roast center temperature should be approximately :

Rare - 125°F
Medium Rare - 135°F
Medium Well - 150°F
Well Done - 160°F

The best technique when a meat thermometer is not available is by touch, I called it the Chef Ramsay's technique. If the touch of the meat is like your cheeks, it's rare, your chin for medium rare and your forehead for well done.

I'm pretty sure most of you wonder how to make the best gravy for roast beef. My brother and I made the best and delicious sauce we had ever, we were so surprised of the results. The following day, on Thanksgiving, some of my collegues made this sauce for their family.

Preparation Time : 5 mins
Cooking Time : 10 mins


12 white mushrooms, sliced
2 medium onions
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tbsp potato starch (cornstarch,  flour)
1 1/2 cup dry red wine
1 10oz. can beef broth or consommé
Salt and Pepper
Roast Beef Drippings


1. After roasting, add oil, mushroom, onions, garlic to pan drippings. Place over medium heat and sauté until tender.

2. In a small bowl, combine a couple tablespoon of beef broth with starch to make a slurry. Pour the remaining beef broth onto the pan and stir in the slurry.

3. Add red wine and simmer until reduced by 1/4 to 1/3. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Grilled Vegetables

I expected that there were at least 8 people would come to grilling night, but we ended to be 4 as some have cancelled at the last minute. Basically, I prepared at least 1kg of vegetables for grilling. I should have made a smaller quantity. Sometimes, I always wonder if it is better to make more than less or to make less than more. I would usually end up with the first choice.

Vegetables are still selling at a reasonable price, I'm profiting the remaining of the vegetable season to do some grilled vegetables. I adapted the recipe from The Illustrated Kitchen Bible.

Serves 4
Preparation Time : 10 mins
Marinating Time : at least 30 mins
Cooking Time : 6-10 mins
Printable Recipe


2 zucchinis, halved lengthwise
1 red bell pepper. quartered
1 yellow bell pepper, quartered
1 eggplant, sliced
1 fennel bulb, quartered
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup parsley
Salt and pepper


1. For the marinade, whisk together oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic parsley, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

2. Place cut vegetables in a ziploc bag, pour marinade onto vegetables. Marinate at room temperature for at least 30 mins.

3. Meanwhile, light an outdoor grill. Oil grill grate.

4. Place vegetables on the grill. Brush vegetables with the marinade. Cook for 3-5 mins on each side until tender or lightly charred. Serve with barbecued meat.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Herb-Crusted Beef Fillet

I finally have access to a barbecue grill. One friend of the recently formed cooking group was generous to lend his place to cook and uses his barbecue grill. My other cooking groups do not even an outdoor grill although my Taiwanese has an indoor grill. My friend is from Computer Science and a minor in Physics. He is not really considered as a physicist but he still hangs out with us. He decided to make herb-crusted beef fillet, a recipe taken from a popular wine store in Quebec. He did this recipe three times, but still he didn't manage to make it correctly. It still tasted good. This dish is best done with fresh herbs and a food processor. The herbs here were not minced with a food processor as he does not have one.
Serves 6
Preparation Time : 20 mins
Grilling Time : 30 - 40 mins
Printable Recipe


900g beef fillet
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp fresh rosemary
2 tbsp fresh thym
1 tbsp fresh savory
1 tbsp fresh tarragon
2 tbsp Dijon Mustard
Salt and pepper

Fresh Herb Butter
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tbsp fresh rosemary
1 tbsp fresh thym
1 tsp fresh savory
1 tsp tarragon


1. For the herb crust, mince garlic and all the fresh herbs in a food processor.

2. Using a brush, spread Dijon mustard all over the beef fillet. Season with salt and pepper. Coat the beef with minced herbs.

3. Preheat the grill and oil the barbecue grid. Grill the beef for 15-20 mins per side or to your desire doneness.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the fresh herb butter. Mince all the herbs in a food processor. In a small bowl, combine butter with herbs.

5. Remove beef fillet from heat and cool for 5-10 mins. Serve with fresh herb butter.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Moist and Healthy Banana Muffin

My Taiwanese friend loves to have new guest (mainly my friends and collegues) coming to his small apartment with a 360 degrees downtown view of Montreal. I am always bringing new people almost every week to cook at his place and enjoy the food. This time, for the vegetarian theme, he made one of the most delicious muffin I have ever tasted, even better than the ones from Tim Hortons. They are large, moist, healthy and have the exact amount of sweetness, this recipe is a must try. As I have some catch-up to do with my friends, I forgot to take some step-by-step pictures of this recipe.

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


4 ripe bananas
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup plain yoghurt
1 tbsp vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly butter and flour 12 muffin cups.

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

3. In a medium bowl, combine all-purpose flour, whole-wheat, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Incorporate gradually into the liquid mixture with a rubber spatula.

4. Add yoghurt and vanilla extract to the batter, mix until combined.

5. Fill muffin cups to 2/3 full. Bake for 25 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test. Rotate muffin pan halfway.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Cremini Mushroom Risotto

For the vegetarian theme, I made risotto. It is the first time I made one by myself. All it requires is to pour a scoop of liquid to rice, let it adsorbed and redo the same routine. This is a straightforward process and takes only thirty minutes of your time to have a great meal. A perfect risotto is when you see all the rice grains and you shouldn't taste the rice crunchiness exactly like pasta.

Serves 6
Preparation Time : 5 mins
Cooking Time : 25 mins
Printable Recipe


7 cups vegetable broth
12 cremini mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 medium red onion, cubed
2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine (or more to taste)
1 cup grated Parmesan (optional)


1. Bring broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan.

2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook cremini mushroom and stir occasionally until golden, about 4 mins. Set aside.

3. Melt butter in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until transparent, about 5 mins.

4. Add rice to onion. Stir until coated. Leave for about 3-4 mins until almost translucent.

5. Add white wine and a ladle of broth. Let the rice adsorbed most of the liquid before adding more liquid, stir constantly. Continue in this manner until it gives a creamy consistency but still retains a bite. After 4 ladles, add the cremini mushrooms. If stock runs out, add water.

6. For a rich taste, add butter or olive oil when it becomes creamy. Add parmesan before serving.


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