Asian-Inspired Bean Sprout Salad with Citrus and Soy Dressing

Whew! I’ve made it through yet another exam season. Grad school is a bit different, we tend to have large research papers to hand in. I’m relieved to be done course work for a few weeks. And am working on a few other projects before the spring term begins. One is a research project I’ve been working on for a little over a year. It’s nice to see it coming together! The other is an event for game enthusiasts: Make a Game or DIY Trying. We’ve invited local speakers who work in the game industry to talk about their careers and will host a design competition in the afternoon. I’m looking forward to taking a few days off next week to relax before the next set of classes start.

With everything coming to an end for the term, Bryan and I took the evening of April 23rd off to celebrate our 9 year anniversary! 9 wonderful years. It sounds like a long time. It hasn’t felt all that long.

Us at Bryan's convocation -- there are very few pictures of us because I'm usually the one holding the camera

Us at Bryan’s convocation — there are very few pictures of us because I’m usually the one holding the camera

Anyway, we were both quite busy during the day, but were able to spend the entire evening together, starting with dinner at our favourite restaurant, Taka! It’s on the opposite side of the next town (near where I grew up), but is always worth the trip! The family that manages the restaurant is very generous, they always greet us with enthusiasm, give us appetizers on the house, which usually means we go home with leftovers. Yesterday was no different. Warm welcome, fantastic and friendly service, delicious food, and enough leftovers for a quick lunch today. We then headed home for a quiet evening. We’ve been watching Game of Thrones (I got the DVDs for my birthday a while back) and watched the final episode of season 2. We can’t wait for season 3 to finish and come out on DVD!

The recipe I’m sharing with you today is a salad that I’ve been making a lot recently that we’re both very fond of. The idea for the salad is based off of a recommendation from a friend. It’s very easy to make and surprisingly filling!

Asian-Inspired Bean Sprout Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 cups bean sprouts – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1/2 cup watercress – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen edamamae beans – approximate cost $1.50

Method

  1. Cook edamamae beans according to package.
  2. Soak hot edamamae beans in an ice water bath.
  3. Rinse the bean sprouts and watercress.
  4. Pat dry.
  5. Combine bean sprouts, watercress, and edamame beans in a large salad bowl.
  6. Mix well.
  7. Top with Citrus and Soy Salad Dressing.
  8. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Citrus and Soy Salad Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon lime juice – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine) – approximate cost $0.15
  • 3 teaspoons Kikkoman soy sauce – approximate cost $0.20
  • 3 teaspoons sesame oil – approximate cost $0.50

Method

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing glass. 5.75
  2. Mix well.
  3. Pour over salad (before the oil and citrus separate).

Makes 2 meal-sized servings (approximate cost: $2.88 per serving) or 4 appetizer-sized servings (approximate cost: $1.44 per serving).

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Very Belated (American) Thanksgiving

Back in November, when I was taking a break to focus on school, we hosted a small dinner party to celebrate American Thanksgiving. Even though it is now just after Christmas, I’d still like to share this meal with you. Why? Because it was delicious and I feel like it was generic enough to serve for any special occasion.

Last year, our American Thanksgiving dinner was much more traditional.

The Appetizer: Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese and Lemon Juice

The Side Dish: Accordion Potatoes

The Other Side Dish: Spaghetti Squash with Lemon

The Main Course: Turkey with Lemon and Rosemary

The Sauce: Cranberry Raspberry Sauce

The Dessert: Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Crust

This year, we decided to change things up for a number of reasons… a whole turkey is just too much for 3-4 people (we got sick of the leftovers) and I worked until 7 pm and needed something that could be prepared quickly.

So this year, the menu consisted of things I could (mostly) prepare the night before and cook quickly when I arrived home.

The menu:

  • Appetizer: Deviled eggs
  • Main dish: Duck breast with a port reduction
  • Side dish: Roasted potatoes with fresh thyme
  • Side dish: Spicy green beans with garlic

Our dear friend W brought home-made treats made by his mother. They were a fantastic way to finish off the meal!

Over the next few posts, I’ll share each of the recipes!

Homemade Tomato Pizza Sauce

I spent my first weekend out of town this summer. By weekend, I mean Sunday. One day away was enough though. It was gorgeous. The sun was shining, and I saw my family for the first time in about a month. We chat a few times a week, so I hear from them regularly, but it was nice to spend a day together. And I missed the dogs, so it was good to see them too. We went to Grand Bend area for the day. Shopped at a flea market where I got the cutest two tea cups. I feel the need to invite someone over to have a tea party. I want a reason to bring out these gorgeous cups.

Then off to a park where my dad and step-mom camp every weekend during the summer months. We went down to the beach for a swim. The water was gorgeous! I didn’t take my camera there, I wanted to swim as opposed to sitting on shore watching. Then back up to the campsite for a short rest. Dad and I then took the dogs out to the field to play frisbee.

Both dogs love chasing the frisbee, but Rebel always gets there first. He’s much faster than Rascal, for now.

Rebel loves this game. He loves to run. He loves to please you by bringing the frisbee back. He’d play all day if we let him.

Rascal, on the other hand, will chase the frisbee a few times and then gets tired. Half way through or so he decided to come sit in my lap while I took pictures of Rebel.

We took a short walk just before dinner to an overlook.

We had a fantastic dinner of steaks, baked potatoes, and Nana’s homemade coleslaw.

However, I didn’t get any pictures of dinner, so I’m going to share homemade pizza sauce. Last week I bought some ready made pizza crusts and some delicious toppings. I was all excited about the pizza I was about to make for lunch, opened the fridge, and realized that I was out of tomato sauce. I didn’t really feel like making a second trip to the grocery store, so I searched the Internet instead, hoping the find a recipe that would allow me to use the ingredients I already had at home. Many recipes called for tomato paste and canned tomatoes, which, oddly, I didn’t have on hand that day. I had fresh tomatoes, surely that would make a tastier sauce?

Anyway, I was very happy with the resulting sauce. It took longer to cook than I would have liked, but I think I was just being really impatient. I was hungry and had expected to make a quick lunch. Instead, it took closer to half an hour before lunch was ready. If you have the time, this sauce is well worth the wait!

When making homemade pizza, do you make your own sauce or use a store-bought sauce?

Pizza Sauce

Adapted from New York Style Pizza Sauce (seriouseats.com)

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe tomatoes, diced – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1/2 red onion, diced – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 garlic cloves – approximate cost $0.20
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning – approximate cost $0.10
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper – approximate cost $0.05
  • Pinch of sea salt – approximate cost $0.05

Method

  1. Place all of the ingredients in a blender.
  2. Blend for about 20 seconds (trying the keep the sauce a bit chunky).
  3. Pour the sauce into a medium-sized pot.
  4. Cook on medium heat until the sauce is reduced and thick (about 20 minutes), stirring once in a while to make sure it doesn’t burn.
  5. Remove from heat.
  6. Spread the sauce over pizza crust.

Makes enough sauce for a 6-9 inch pizza (approximate cost: $2.00).

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Hanger Steak

Last week I mentioned that I’ve been working at a butcher shop the last few months. I’ve learned so much already. I’ve quickly learned to identify and recommend cuts of meat. I’ve learned a few things about cooking. Yet, there’s much more to learn.

Today, I’m featuring a steak that I brought home last week: the hanger steak. Why? Because it’s quite unique. I hadn’t heard of a hanger steak before starting my job. I’m told it’s a piece that’s not frequently sold (many butchers will reserve it for themselves because there is only one).

The hanger steak (which, as its name implies, hangs) comes from just below the ribs. It’s known for being a bit tougher than a rib-eye or striploin steak, but has a stronger flavour.

What’s so great about a hanger steak you ask? Why would you buy it over another steak? It’s got a lot of flavour. Even though it has a strong grain running through it, the steak is quite tender (that is, as long as you prepare it carefully and slice it correctly). Also, it seemed like an interesting challenge for me. Hanger steaks become tough if over-cooked. So they must be rare or medium-rare when served. You also have to slice them against the grain, again, because cutting with the grain makes the meat tougher.

This hanger steak did not disappoint! It had so much flavour and we didn’t find it tough in the slightest. I enjoyed mine with steak sauce. Bryan ate his plain (the browned butter flavour was very nice with the sauce!). We will definitely buy this again!

What is your favourite cut of steak?

Hanger Steak with Homemade Steak Sauce

Steak Sauce recipe credit to Bryan

Ingredients

  • 1 hanger steak (ours was about 700 grams and was enough for two people) – approximate cost $8.00
  • 2 tablespoons butter – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil – approximate cost $0.07
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce – approximate cost $0.15

Method

  1. Prepare the steak.
    1. In a frying pan, heat the butter over medium-high heat until it is melted and begins to brown.
    2. Add the olive oil and continue to heat.
    3. Place the hanger steak in the frying pan.
    4. Cook for 5-7 minutes (depending on the thickness of the steak and the desired done-ness).
    5. Turn and continue to cook for an additional 5-7 minutes.
    6. Remove steak from the frying pan and allow to rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes.
    7. Slice the steak into thin pieces against the grain.
  2. Prepare the steak sauce in a small bowl.
    1. Add ketchup and Worcestershire sauce  to the bowl.
    2. Stir until thoroughly combined.
  3. Serve steak plain with the sauce on the side and your favourite side dishes.

We served this with a side of Jasmine rice and a tomato and cucumber salad. Yum!

Makes 2 servings (approximate cost: $4.29 per serving).

Day 5: Best condiment

I don’t like the typical sweet relish. I’ll pass it by every time. Dill relish on the other hand… Many thanks to my mom who bought me this bottle of dill relish.

Beef Heart with Shaoxing Wine Sauce

I’m constantly looking for ways to save money on our meals. One of the easiest ways I’ve found to cut costs from our weekly grocery bill is the eat offal. I am lucky that my family raised me to eat these cuts of meat without fuss. I’m thankful that Bryan is an adventuresome eater and tries nearly everything I put in front of him without complaint.

My favourite grocery store always has an abundant stock of hearts, liver, feet, tongues, etc. One of my worries when we started eating these cuts of meat was that we would get bored of it over time, that there were only a few ways to prepare these dishes.

Of course, that led me to read recipes and wanting to experiment with cooking. Here’s a few of my favourite recipes about eating offal:

The dish I prepared was completely different from those I read about. As I was reading through the blogs, I was craving Chinese food. I didn’t find many Asian-inspired recipes for eating offal, although I’m sure they’re out there. If you know of any, please point me towards them!

Beef Heart with Shaoxing Wine Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 beef heart, trimmed (here’s a great tutorial on YouTube) – approximate cost $3.50
  • 5 garlic cloves, halved – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 cup Shaoxing wine – approximate cost $1.00
  • ⅓ cup dark soy sauce – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch – approximate cost $0.05
  • 2 cups water

Method

  1. Cut beef heart into bite-sized pieces.
  2. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
  3. Add beef heart pieces to the pot and brown the meat.
  4. When the meat is almost completely browned, add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, and water.
  6. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
  7. Place a lid on the pot and cook for at least 2 hours (Add more water as it cooks if it looks like it is boiling away).
  8. In a measuring cup, combine cornstarch and a small amount of cold water, stirring until the cornstarch is completely dissolved.
  9. Slowly pour the cornstarch mixture into the pot and stir until thickened.
  10. Serve in bowls with plenty of sauce.

Makes about 6 servings (approximate cost: $0.94 per serving).

The Sauce: Cranberry Raspberry Sauce

Last year, we got through the entire meal before I realized that I’d forgotten to serve the cranberry sauce. Instead, we enjoyed it with our leftovers.

This year, I decided to make my own cranberry sauce. Sure, it’s easy to just open a can of cranberry sauce, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t forget it this year. However, I did buy a can of cranberry sauce as a back up. I wasn’t sure if the added raspberries would be well-received.

Because I’ve almost always enjoyed my cranberry sauce from a can, I had the misconception that this would be a lot of extra work (but I had to know if it was worth the extra work). I’m happy to say that we will be enjoying homemade cranberry sauce from now on. It’s simple to make and, in my opinion, much tastier when made with fresh fruits.

Cranberry Raspberry Sauce

Adapted from AllRecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups cranberries – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1 cup raspberries – approximate cost $2.00
  • 1 ¼ cups red wine (I used a Cabernet-Sauvingion) – approximate cost $2.00
  • ½ cup sugar – approximate cost $0.50

Method

  1. Combine the cranberries and raspberries in a blender and blend until the mixture is slightly chunky.
  2. On low heat, begin to melt the sugar in a pot and stir frequently.
  3. Add the red wine and berry mixture to the pot and bring to a simmer.
  4. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the sauce is thick.

Serve hot or chilled. Makes about 10 servings (approximate cost: $0.65 per serving).

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