October 05, 2003

Welcome

THis site is being hosted primarily to share photos and other stuff with friends and family. If you're not either/or you'll probably be bored stiff here, but you're free to hang around.

(Heck, even if you are a friend/family you'll probably be bored stiff.)

Anyway, enjoy! Or not!

Posted by JAY at 03:56 PM

October 18, 2003

Wok with Jason

Mmmm... dinner.

I had to cook dinner today, and it turned out pretty well, not using any cookbooks or anything... Just making stuff up. Unfortunately, no pictures.

Prime Rib Roast
Balsamic Gravy
Herbed Black and White Rice
Japanese Eggplant with Roasted Garlic and Mushrooms
Yorkshire Pudding
Spiced Pears with Custard Sauce

Instructions follow...

Prime Rib
Stick a thermometer in it, stick in a 350 degree oven
Cook until just under rare (it'll be sitting and cook more)
Takes about 3 hours for a 2-3 rib roast.

Pour and keep the rendered fat in the pan for the Yorkshire Puddings.

Reserve the pan with the crusty stuff for heating the sauce in.

Balsamic Gravy
1/4 cup butter
1 onion
1/4 scant cup flour
garlic
1 1/2 cups chicken/beef broth
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
handful of mushrooms
spices


Cook the onions in the butter on medium heat in a sauce pan until they caramelize and turn brown. (10 minutes)

Add the flour all at once, stir briskly until cooked (3 minutes).

Pour in everything else and cook over medium low.

For spices: black pepper, thyme, oregano (healthy pinches)
Salt to taste and add water if you want a thinner sauce.

Heat the sauce again in the beef roasting pan after the oil has been poured out.

Herbed Black and White Rice
Take whatever quantity of white long-grain rice you usually cook, take an extra third of black wild rice, and cook as you normally would. Ie - rinse the rice with cold water, cover with cold water to about 2 cm over the rice. Bring to a boil on high, stirring occasionally. Cover and then turn down the heat to low for about 15 min. NO PEEKING from this point on!! (You'll let out the steam.) Turn off the fire and let it sit for another 15 minutes. It'll stay hot for about an hour, but if it'll be longer, fluff it with a fork so it doesn't cake up.

I threw some sprigs of thyme in the boiling water to scent the rice (they were in the fridge).

Japanese Eggplant with Roasted Garlic and Mushrooms
Japanese eggplant is the smaller, light purple, slender one. It doesn't have the bitterness or the mushy seeds of the big black kind. They're widely available in supermarkets. Eggplant has a blotter-like capacity for oil.

1 or 2 japanese eggplants
Olive oil
Roasted garlic (up to 1/2 cup!)
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice and fry the eggplant in a few tablespoons olive oil over high heat. It'll start to get brown speckles from the heat, and get less rigid.

Mix in the roasted garlic with yet more olive oil and mix it in with the eggplant.

Salt and pepper to taste and cook until you like it, ideally, before it turns to mush, but it shouldn't be crunchy.

Yorkshire Pudding
I lost my recipe and had to improvise, but these puffed spectacularly to about 3x their original size! Halve the recipe for 12 puddings.

4 eggs
2 cups of milk
1 1/2 cup of flour
Pinch of salt
Beef dripping fat or veg. oil

This is a one bowl prep version.
Heat oven to 460 degrees.
Prepare 24 muffin tins by greasing them with the liquid fat. There should be about 1/2 cm oil on the bottom. Use a heavy steel muffin tin, not an aluminium or teflon coated one. Place the oiled tray in the oven about 5 minutes before you need it (put it in right away, if you're fast!)

A french hand whisk is the easiest thing to use here.
Whisk the eggs in a bowl until frothy. (1 minute)
Whisk in the milk lightly. (20 secs!)
Whisk in the flour and salt till blended. (30 secs)

Pour it into the hot oiled muffin tins and stick them into the oven (it'll sizzle as you pour it... the rapid heating is what puffs them). Turn the oven down to 450 degrees. This is the heat that puffs and browns them.

After 15 minutes, they should be 2 to 3x the size and be popping out of the muffin tins. Turn the heat down to 350 degrees for the next 15 minutes. This is the heat that sets them.

Remove from the muffin trays immediately and put them in a basket lined with cloth. If they're sticking, you probably didn't use enough oil. That's ok, leave stuck ones for about 5 minutes and the condensation will loosen them.

Spiced Pears with Custard Sauce following
3-4 pears (allow 1/2 pear for each person, with a few extras)
brown sugar
maple syrup (optional)
nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, cloves
1/3 of a lemon for juice


Peel the pears, halve them and take out the seeds and bottom stem.
Stick them in a pan large enough that they all touch the bottom.
Squirt them with about 1/3 of a lemon to prevent browning (no seeds!)
Sprinkle them with a pinch of each spice (whole spices are better, but I only had whole ginger and nutmeg, so I put a piece of ginger and grated some nutmeg. I used powders for the rest.)
Throw in a handful or two of brown sugar, a dash of maple syrup.

The juice from the lemon and the suger should be enough to have some liquid on the bottom of the pan.

Cook them over medium high heat, covered, spooning the liquid over them occasionally, until they're soft.

Remove the pears, and boil down the remaining liquid until it's thick (10 minutes, watch that it doesn't burn).

Custard Sauce
1 cup milk (I used skim, but any will do.)
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
vanilla extract (not the fake kind!)
butter (optional)
1 egg yolk (optional)

If you want, just use a packaged custard sauce, but it's really just as easy to make your own. Again, I try to use just one pan.

Mix the sugar and cornstarch together in a small sauce pan.
Stir in the cold milk until everything's dissolved

Heat gently while stirring. I hate using double boilers, so I just use low heat, but make sure to scrape the bottom with the spoon so that it doesn't burn or clump. If it does start to clump, you can whisk it in to submission with a french whisk, but it shouldn't if you're careful.

After the sauce comes to a gentle boil, it'll thickly coat the bottom of a spoon. Stir in about 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract.

If using the optional butter, stir in a small knob of it now.

If you're not using the egg yolk, stir in some yellow food coloring.

If you are using the egg yolk, whisk it in a small bowl with a fork, add a tablespoon of the hot custard and mix it again, add a few more spoons of custard and whisk, then add the mixture back to the custard sauce pan and stir.

Put the almost cooled pears in individual bowls, pour some custard sauce over them, pour some of the reduced pear spice sauce over that, and swirl decoratively with a spoon or knife.

Posted by JAY at 04:46 PM

October 20, 2003

Movie Review: Together

Southlake Cinemania Film Circuit is a division of the Toronto International Film Festival Group. Last night, we saw Together, in which a young violin prodigy and his father move from their small town in China to Beijing to seek Conservatory training.

Performances by all of the principle cast members were entertaining and layered(as far as I could tell, with the dialogue being in Chinese and subtitled in English). The plot was well paced through to an unconventional, yet satisfying, conclusion.

Visuals were stunning. Aside from the plot, the insights into living in both rural China and Beijing were intimate yet unobtrusive -- unlike the Tokyo-based Lost in Translation.
While Lost in Translation featured an outsider's perspective of living in Japan, Together portrays China from the Chinese director's (Chen Kaige) familiar viewpoint. The result seems subtler and more textured.

Of course, the impressive violin-based musical score is also emphasized throughout.

Slight focus problems during the entire screening detracted from the experience somewhat.

Highly recommended.

Posted by JAY at 11:45 PM | Comments (1)

October 26, 2003

Restaurant Review: Aw Shucks


Click image for a larger view

Aw Shucks is a new seafood restaurant in Aurora. This is the first restaurant review that I've done - it's a lot of fun to embarass my friends with my digital camera in the restaurant!

Anyway, the dish pictured is Smoked Salmon on Fettucine with Vodka Cream Sauce. Read on for the review.

Appropriately, Aw Shucks serves 3 types of oysters at a slightly pricey $2-3 per half shell. The flavor, however, didn't seem to match the oysters I've had in the maritimes, New Orleans or Florida. Is this to be expected? I'm honestly not sure.

The entree was very tasty and very enjoyable. The vodka sauce was nicely herbed, the smoked salmon shredded and tender. The salmon eggs were very pretty and popped into salty fish flavor - that might be disturbing for some, but it lent some excitement to the dish.

My only criticism was that the vodka sauce, though wonderful on its own, was too slightly salty when the smoked salmon was mixed into it. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed it a lot. Certainly, at $17(CAN) the entree was very reasonably priced.

By contrast, at $8 the deserts looked unappealing and I abstained.

Service was efficient, if a bit impersonal.
I like seafood, but it'll probably be a little while before I re-visit Aw Shucks.

Aw Shucks Seafood Bar & Bistro
15474 Yonge Street, Aurora

Posted by JAY at 11:00 PM | Comments (1)