Homemade Ratatouille
Homemade Ratatouille

Ratatouille is a famous braised vegetable preparation from Provence in the South of France. The main ingredients typically include Eggplant, Tomato, Onion, and Bell Peppers, but Zucchini and Fennel often appear, with Mushrooms and Black Olives being added in some versions. It can be served as a hot, as a vegetarian casserole or vegetable side dish, and, once cooled, can be served as a relish, or used as an ingredient in more complex preparations.


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Tomatoes Stir-Fry Eggs - 番茄炒蛋
Tomatoes Stir-Fry Eggs – 番茄炒蛋

Tomatoes Stir-Fry Eggs – 番茄炒蛋

I have heard, or read, a huge number of Chinese people, cooks and non-cooks alike, who claim that 番茄炒蛋, or Eggs gently scrambled with Tomatoes, is the first dish they ever learned to prepare themselves. It is certainly a popular dish amongst students, and at modest family meals, not only because it is delicious, but because it so incredibly simple to make. The humble meal may consist of nothing more that the requisite Tomatoes and Eggs, along with maybe a pinch or two of Sugar, or it may get considerably more complex with all sorts of other additions, much like an Omelet, or Scrambled Eggs in the West. The recipe for the version here is a touch more complex than the most basic form of Tomatoes Stir-Fry Eggs, but it is still remarkably simple.


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Vichyssoise - Cold Leek and Potato Soup
Vichyssoise – Cold Leek and Potato Soup

Vichyssoise

Two things… First of all, the name of this Classic Soup is pronounced ‘Vishee-SWAAZZ’. Many North Americans pronounce it ‘Vishee-SWAH’, as though omitting the final consonant were the truly refined and properly Frenchified pronunciation. It isn’t.

Secondly, thick soups of pureed leek and potato have been around forever, but the version created in the early 20th Century and named ‘Vichyssoise’ has traditionally been served cold, often at very formal meals. Personally, I like this type of soup served nicely chilled, but I also love it served piping hot with crusty bread. In French cuisine, a hot ‘Vichyssoise’ would more properly be called a ‘Potage a la Parmentier’.

Of course, you could always just call it ‘Leek and Potato Soup’


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Imperial Concubine Chicken
Imperial Concubine Chicken

Imperial Concubine Chicken

According to Chinese culinary tradition, some emperor or other once had a favorite mistress who enjoyed a particular chicken dish so much that it was eventually named after her. Now, it may well be that there were hundreds of imperial concubines running about with favorite chicken dishes of their own, or perhaps there was just one with highly diverse gastronomic tastes, because there are many, many versions of this classic dish.  One version, being chicken braised with rice wine, bamboo shoots and mushrooms, is reproduced here…


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Enoki Beef Rolls
Enoki Beef Rolls

Enoki Beef Rolls are a common addition to Japanese Restaurant menus (here in Canada, at least). Basically, they consist of Enokitake  (Enoki Mushrooms) wrapped in thin slices of beef and then grilled with some sort of sweetish glaze. Commonly, the glaze is some variation of a Teriyaki Sauce, but I have used a commercially prepared Eel Sauce from Kikkoman in this recipe.


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Agedashi Tofu
Agedashi Tofu

An Agemono dish in Japanese cookery is one in which the main ingredient is deep-fried. Age dofu (or tofu) is any preparation of deep-fried tofu, while Agedashi Tofu is cubes of the fried bean curd served in a dashi-based sauce. Here, as is often the case, the sauce is essentially a Kakejiru (or dashi, soy, mirin blend) lightly thickened with cornstarch.


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Chrysanthemum Chicken
Chrysanthemum Chicken

Almost every recipe for Chrysanthemum Chicken you will ever come across derives its name from the fact the Chrysanthemum petals, or greens, are used as an ingredient. This recipe here, however, contains no floral parts and is inspired by a dish in a very old Chinese cookery book, now out of print, whose poetic name stems from its visual likeness to a Chrysanthemum bloom.

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Dongpo Pork served with Baby Bok Choy
Dongpo Pork served with Baby Bok Choy

The classic Chinese dish, Dong Po Pork, is named after the Chinese poet Su Dongpo, who, by all accounts, loved pork belly prepared this way. The dish is an example of the Chinese technique of ‘red-cooking’ (紅燒), meaning that the main ingredients are braised in a soy sauce based cooking medium. Here, as in the classic Dongpo Pork tradition, aromatics and sugar are added for sweetness, and the slow-cooking of the fatty pork belly makes for a result that is rich, unctuous, and absolutely delicious.

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