Monthly Archives: July 2011

So easy, so bad

I work quite a lot these days, which explains why I don’t post new topics about interesting restaurants in town. The only places I’ve been recently are called Starbucks, Subway and Pizza Blanche-Neige (which offers a very nice pizza for delivery in my neighbourhood). Clearly, I’m the sad stereotype of a lazy-ass worker who doesn’t want a homemade lunch.

Topic of the day: McDonald decided to make their “Happy Meals” a tad… healthier: reduce the size of french fries, add five (5!) apple slices and replace soda by milk. I like the initiative, however, bringing a child to McDonald is an approval to give him bad food, whether they have a glass of milk or not… (which is why parents have to teach kids good food habits).

Last anecdote of the day: this actually reminds me a client I met at work who was eating chips while I scanned her products. She gave me a pack of nuts and dried fruits from her basket and says:

“I read the nutritional facts and that product has more fat than my chips… Hmmm… These chips are really good. I think I should grab a second bag for my son.”

And I, completely shocked and speechless, scanned her bag of chips twice: one for her, one for her son.

PS: I’ve read the nutritional facts after and damn, that woman doesn’t know how to compare portions!

PPS: Sorry for bad grammar: I’m still waiting for Alex’s correction.

Hëër dê shrîmpéé!

You may not believe me, even if I eat shrimps quite often; I’m unfortunately allergic to seafood. Not a particularly dangerous one obviously, but annoying enough to force me to take antihistamines to avoid my swelling in my lips and hands.

My mom used to cook me tempura shrimp made out of shredded sweet potatoes. I tried to replicate her famous dish once and it ended up into a terrible mess and nothing good enough to eat. So… I just make ordinary tempura shrimp with the batter mix available at the Chinese supermarket.

TEMPURA SHRIMPS

  1. To prepare the batter, follow the instructions on the package. I realized that their measurements are completely off and I adjusted with more water. Prepare the mix in a bowl placed into a bigger one containing ice cold water: the colder, the better.
  2. Remove the shells from the shrimps and keep the tails: it will become crispy just like a chip after the deep-frying process.
  3. Heat the oil in a wok. No need for a deep-fry machine or whatsoever when a wok can do anything!
  4. Rub flour of the shrimps and dip them into the batter mix. Deep-fry until they’re a golden colour.
  5. Let the shrimps sit on a paper towel to remove excess of oil. Serve with vermicelli, lettuce, herbs and a good homemade nước chấm (sauce made out of nước mấm, brown sugar, lime juice, water and garlic.)

***

Little bonus of the day: one of my favourite videos from the Muppets called Pöpcørn. Please watch with captions (click the little CC button at the bottom)

Gỏi cuốn – A summer roll

Called spring roll or summer roll and gỏi cuốn in Vietnamese, this dish is so easy to gulp down, but their preparation is another story. The time, money and patience required will depend on the ingredients you’ll choose. Many restaurants cut corners on the fillings to be able to sell rolls at a decent price, but many of these rolls may contain about 90% of lettuce and vermicelli.

In my case, here is how my mom loved to prepare them when I was young and how I got used to prepare them myself:

Gỏi cuốn – Spring rolls

Ingredients:

  • Rice sheets
  • Rice vermicelli
  • Lettuce
  • Mint leaves
  • Cooked shrimps
  • Sweet omelet
  • Chinese sausage

Notes:

  1. Choose vermicelli that ideally, when cooked, turn white. Those I’ve tried during this recipe stayed strangely transparent and had a gooey texture… When I did my groceries, I couldn’t find at that time my favourite brand and had to deal with what the store had. Bad idea.
  2. Place a piece of lettuce between the mint leaves and the vermicelli in the roll. I didn’t have lettuce that day, but it adds a nice crispy feel to the dish.
  3. Please, roll tightly! OK, rice sheets are not as solid as sushi seaweed, but that doesn’t mean that rolls have to be loose…
  4. Choose fillings up to your taste. Many people were surprised to see sausages in my rolls, stating that they never saw any like these in restaurants. Sausages are quite expensive though, so cooks had to cut somewhere, right? Still, what’s in your roll is up to you.

No need for an ice cream maker…

… when you can follow Nigella’s bitter orange ice cream recipe. Limes being pretty cheap these days, I decided to try my first homemade lime ice cream.

1. Zest and press 4 to 5 limes (up to your taste)
2. Dissolve 150g of icing sugar in lime juice.
3. Replace the double cream by a mix 50:50 of Liberté crème fraîche slightly whisked and 35% cream to obtain an equivalent just as rich taste, but not as heavy in your mouth.
3. Whip the cream mix.
4. Pour the mixture into a resealable Tupperware and forget it in the freezer. If you prepare it in the morning before work, it will be ready when you’ll be back home.
5. Non mandatory: mix it with a spoon during the freezing to avoid the formation of ice crystals (that doesn’t necessarily happen).

Pictures of the week

1 – Avocado makis and Twin Salmon makis from SushiShop
2 – Sweet bean paste mochis (thanks to Lu Wei’s mom)
3 & 4 – Grumman 78, at the Jazz Festival
5 – Bánh Mì (Vietnamese pork) taco and BBQ pork taco
6 – Green Tea Frappuccino from Starkbucks
7 – Mini Cooper parked next to Préfontaine subway station