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Foodstuff: Mirabel Brand Pre-Cooked Frozen Clams

One of our local stores has been carrying the Mirabel Brand of Frozen Clams for about six or seven months now.  When I first saw them in the freezer cabinet over the last Christmas holidays, I almost passed them by because, to tell you the truth, I am not a really huge fan. I actually love shellfish in general, and could almost live on seafood alone, but clams, I have to say, pretty much come last on my list of preferred types. I don’t mind the breaded clam ‘strips’ that many restaurants serve, but whole clams just don’t usually do it for me.

Anyway… despite my lukewarm feelings about this particular mollusk I ended up grabbing a package on a whim and I can tell you now that I am really glad I did. Not only were these tiny clams a terrific treat, they turned out to be the absolute best I have ever purchased… Read more

Experiment: Oven ‘Barbecued’ Beef Ribs

 I am not a huge fan of beef ribs, usually. I often find them too fatty… especially the short rib cut.  However, these nice long, lean ones you see above are the ‘Prime Rib’ variety and, since they don’t appear in our stores very often, I just had to grab a few for supper.

Lately, I have been having a bit of a hankering for barbecue but, sadly, ‘tis not yet the season here in the North and, since my last cookout fiasco, I need to buy a new barbecue unit before I can do the real thing once again. Accordingly, I decided to cook these ribs in the oven with a nice barbecue rub made right here in my kitchen…  Read more

Review: Chinese Cooking Cantonese

By Margaret Leeming

1990 Ward Lock Ltd.  ISBN-13: 978-0706368611

This book is apparently part of the ‘International Gourmet’ series but, as yet, this is the first one of the set I have come across. I am always on the look-out for books focusing on specific regional cuisines rather than those dealing with general Chinese cookery but, these days, Cantonese cookbooks are more heavily represented than those of any other culinary school and it is hard to find ones that are special.  Unfortunately, there is not much about this particular publication to lift it above the growing crowd… Read more

Experiment: Beef Curry with Fresh Fenugreek

As I said in my recent ‘Foodstuffs’ post on Fresh Fenugreek Leaves (Methi), I decided to use the bunch I had just purchased in a loose version of an Indian dish called ‘’Methi Gosht’. ‘This dish is very similar to another Indian curry called ‘Saag Gosht’ (or ‘Palak Gosht’) which uses spinach instead of Fenugreek. I make that dish quite frequently, although I often use beef instead of the traditional lamb, and it is a favorite at our house. I decided that I would also use beef for this particular experiment and, as I will explain below, I make a couple of small departures from the usual Indian method of cooking such dishes… Read more

Spice: Black Cardamom

Cardamom is not a common addition to most home spice cabinets. It comes in two closely related varieties: the green (which most people will have at least tasted at some time or another), and the black variety, which is larger and far less well known in western cookery. Green cardamom, although not widely recognized, is used in quite a few bakery products, especially in Scandinavia, and it is likely in these types of products that most people will have encountered it.

When I was growing up, green cardamom was used quite frequently in our house, especially in my father’s biryanis, but I was probably in my thirties before I discovered the black variety. It is unfortunate that that this spice is not very well known because it has a unique taste that works nicely in quite a number of different preparations… Read more

Review: Cooking with Chinese Herbs

By Terry Tan

2004, Times Editions, ISBN-13: 978-9812329608

In Chinese cuisine, almost all foods are categorized according to various qualities pertinent to the principles of Chinese Traditional medicine, and there are also quite a number of herbal ingredients that are used almost exclusively for their medicinal value. I only recently came across this very nice little book on the subject and I rather wish I had owned it before writing my post on Crocodile Meat Soup Mix, as it would have saved me quite a bit of research time… Read more

Foodstuff: Jicama

One might well take the object above as a potato at first glance but it is, in fact, a Jicama – a tuberous root native to Mexico. Although I have a number of cookbooks (chiefly Mexican) containing recipes for using this vegetable, this is the first time I have ever actually seen one and I am very pleased to finally be able to give it a try… Read more

Three-Cup Chicken (三杯雞)

I have yet to try this classic Chinese dish in a restaurant, although I have made it before. The ‘three-cups’ in the name refers to the fact that the chicken is cooked in a cup each of soy, rice wine and sesame oil, although, in actual practice, any volume of each can be used as long as they are in equal amounts. The dish apparently originated in Jiangxi Province in Southern China but is nowadays more closely associated with Taiwan where the basic recipe has been enhanced by the addition of fresh basil leaves towards the end of cooking.

The last time I made this dish I used the last leaves of basil we had growing in our indoor window box and there really wasn’t enough. I have been waiting for ages for fresh basil to appear in our local grocery store and when I saw some the other day I grabbed two of the only four bunches they had. There were some frozen drumettes of chicken in our freezer leftover from a steamed chicken wing experiment I did a few weeks ago and I though they might work nicely instead of the cut-up whole chicken many recipes call for…  Read more

Review: Chinese Dim Sum

By Lee Hwa-Lin

1993: Wei-Chuan Publishing  ISBN-13: 978-0941676243

This is the first Dim Sum cookery book I ever purchased and so I have something of a sentimental attachment to it, I suppose. Still, to be fair, I have to say that, although I have found a lot of inspiration just browsing through the pages, I have never found it to be much of a practical cookery manual…  Read more

Experiment: Chocolate Dripped Cape Gooseberry

Well…. A very short post today. When I introduced the South America Fruit Physalis (also known as Cape Gooseberry), I rather hoped to use some to make a salsa, possibly to have with smoked salmon. Unfortunately, there were only about 15 or 16 in the little basket I bought and that really wasn’t enough to make it worthwhile. I did, however, come across a suggestion that they be dipped in chocolate and thus I came up with the presentation you see above.

I used some of that Hershey’s Chocolate Shell Topping you put on ice cream and I put the fruit into the freezer for about 5 or 10 minutes so that the chocolate would harden on contact. Afterwards, I added a little dab of raspberry jam, sprinkled on some sugar, and then garnished each with a little sliver of mint leaf. I was planning to make some mint tea but I put the mint in ‘fridge and forgot about it so most of the leaves had turned brown (I really must stop doing that!). Luckily, though, I managed to salvage a few to slide underneath the treats as a further bit of decoration.

Anyway, I quite enjoyed them and my wife really liked them a lot. The chocolate did indeed go nicely with the fruit, so it turned out to be a very good suggestion. I hope you like the look of them and try them yourself…

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