Sunday, June 29, 2014

Formosa Tea House

Last week, a friend and I visited the Formosa Tea House on Lemarchant Road.  Opened by Taiwanese tea merchants in 2011, after 10 years in PEI, Formosa Tea House is one of St. John's best kept secrets.  Part cafe, part tea wholesaler, the tea house is a welcome change from big chain places like Starbucks and Treats and also from the expensive cafe's downtown.


The space is small but welcoming.  The walls are decorated in Chinese decorations, in a minimalist design.  They have tea products prominently displayed, as well as authentic Chinese tea sets you may purchase.
My friend and I sat down and ordered our drinks.  I ordered an almond milk tea and my friend ordered a mocha ice coffee.  The prices were fantastic.  $2.21 for the almond milk tea and $2.65 for the mocha ice coffee.  The almond tea was sweet and creamy and reminded me of the Chinese tea shops I used to visit in Toronto, except for the prices are much better at Formosa.  The mocha ice coffee was sweet and refreshing, perfect for a summer's afternoon.


Formosa Cafe is unique in that they have all vegetarian options for their traditional Taiwanese snacks.  We ordered BBQ buns, veggie sushi, spring rolls, bamboo rice, dumplings, stuffed buns, sticky rice, sweet bean buns and kim chi.  At an average price of $2-$2.50 per dish, we couldn't pass up trying many dishes.






The flavours were amazing.  If you did not know the snacks were vegetarian, you would swear they had meat in them, especially in the spring rolls and BBQ buns.  Even if you were a meat lover and did not like eating vegetables, the textures and flavours of the snacks would make you reconsider, as they have made the snacks so well.  It is worth it for everyone to try out this little gem.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Iceberg Season

       Late May to early June in Newfoundland is iceberg season, as icebergs make their way down Iceberg Alley, from Baffin Bay down past the Southeast coast.  This year is a very active season for icebergs, where you can almost see an iceberg in every Bay.  This past weekend, I headed up Signal Hill with my buddy to check out the Icebergs just outside the narrows.  It was beautiful!  All this "iceberg fever" inspired me to have an iceberg theme for my blog.






Iceberg Beer




       Today I bring you a proud lager brewed right here in St. John's, Newfoundland by the Quidi Vidi Brewing Company. Iceberg beer was launched in 2007 and like all their beers, they are brewed without adjuncts; which involves no corn or rice, just malt. At launch this brew came in a clear bottle but a few years later the company changed the color. They are available province wide in liquor stores and corner shops all year round. It's currently the 4th best selling Newfoundland beer according to the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation website. If you attend the tour given at the brewery then you'll most likely hear that their Iceberg beer is made from pure 25,000 year old glacier water. And we all know that the purity of the water affects the quality of the beer. Now on to the review, I’m getting thirsty…

image of Quidi Vidi Brewery by Tudorw @ beothic.blogspot.ca


       You can purchase Iceberg beer in either a white box of a dozen or six. Being somewhat of a casual drinker I opted for the latter. It comes in a tall glass bottle with a long neck much like a Corona except this bottle also comes in a cool looking blue transparent hue. A possible reason being is that clear glass bottles allows an increased amount of light exposure, thus degrading the hops and sours the flavor of the ale. Or it could also just be a clever marketing strategy to differentiate this lager from many other ones with similar clear bottles.

The above video is the property of the Quidi Vidi Brewing Company

        After snapping the pry-off crown and hearing the crisp sound of escaping vapors from several millennia of frozen purity I immediately poured the cold one into a tall glass. This light lager measures in at 341ml with an alcohol by volume content at just 4.5 percent.



Appearance
It comprised of a pale yellow ale in color with a short head and plenty of fizzing bubbles.

Aroma
It smells like mild wheat and yeast.

Taste
The flavor is a bit weak with a hint of malt compared to other light beers. It lacks in body but has a pleasant after taste with a dry finish and a balanced bitterness.

Verdict
Iceberg beer is not too strong and people who like light beer will find it quite pleasing to taste. I was quite intrigued by the marketing direction of the product and believe that Iceberg Beer makes a great Newfoundland product to promote to locals and visitors alike. At $18.68 for 6 and $34.96 for a dozen I will drink again for that price.  Bottoms Up!




Drunken BBQ Chicken Wings


Ingredients:
  • 3 lbs. chicken wings, split; tips removed
  • 1 bottle Iceberg beer
  • 2 tablespoons Clubhouse chipotle mango seasoning
BBQ sauce:
  • 1 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Iceberg beer
  • 2 teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard
 Instructions:
  1. Start with a large bowl, marinate the chicken wings witht he Iceberg beer and chipotle mango seasoning. Cover with plastic wrap and lay in the fridge for at least 2 hours for flavors to infuse but overnight is best if you plan ahead of time.
  2. Preheat oven at 375F
  3. Meanwhile in a medium sauce pan or large frying pan, combine all the BBQ sauce ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  4. Lay chicken wings out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  5. Remove the wings from the oven and place them in the BBQ sauce and make sure they are evenly coated. Then place them back on the same baking tray with a new sheet of parchment since the first sheet probably has a lot of grease and moisture left on it from cooking the wings before.
  6. Continue to bake the wings for another 10-15 minutes until the sauce starts to bubble and brown.
  7. Turn over chicken midway through the cooking process and baste with additional sauce if needed.
  8. Once the internal temperature of the wings reach 180F and desire brownness is achieved they are ready.
Don't forget to pass these tasty wings around with more ice cold beer!

Tip: Using a wire rack inside a parchment lined baking sheet makes the chicken crispier.
       You could also do these wings on the BBQ and baste them when they are almost cooked through. 

ClubHouse Chipotle Mango



     Part of Clubhouse's la Grille series comes a seasoning that combines the smokey blend of fire roasted chipotle peppers with sweet mango and spices. A few shakes onto chicken, pork or fish before grilling or baking will instantly jazz up any meal. Follow along as I use this ingredient in a featured recipe this week: Drunken BBQ Chicken Wings!

Nutritional info:                     Ingredients:

sugar & salt
spice and herbs (including chipotle chili pepper)
dehydrated vegetables (onion, garlic, tomato)
brown sugar
natural flavour
sodium acetate
disodium Inosinate

Guanylate
Acetic Acid
mango powder
corn maltodextrin
fancy molasses
cornstarch
spice extractives
lactic acid & calcium lactate
sunflower lecithin & calcium silicate
silicon dioxide & calcium stearate






It comes in 2 sizes: 160g shaker or the large 650g container.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

There's an "app" for that!


Cooking has never been easier with all the technology of today, From Smart Fridges to Iphones, there are so many tools at our disposal.  As with cooking and pretty much anything you could think of, there is a helpful App just a download away.  Today, I will be taking a look at one of my favourite cooking apps and making a yogurt cake using one of the recipes featured in the App.
     
It doesn't matter if your culinary limits knows no bounds or if you burn water, We all could use a bit of help improving our cooking skills and saving time.  If you have a smartphone or a tablet then join me as I show you the food/cooking apps I found useful as I turned my failed endeavors into delectable delights!

Today's App of the Day is:

Epicurious

       This FREE app offers the best of the best with tried & true recipes from popular websites and magazines. You can choose between a variety of categories ranging from Weeknight Dinners to I Can Barely Cook. You can also search for recipes based on a Main Ingredient, Meal/Course, Cuisine, Dietary Consideration, Dish Type, Season or Occasion. On top of all that you may also save recipes and generate shopping lists before heading to the supermarket. This app is available for download @ iTunes & Google Play.


Description from iTunes:
 
Experience the all-new Epicurious app with added free features and a fresh interface. The ever-popular cooking resource—over 10 million downloads—has been fully redesigned and reengineered for today’s home cooks.

· A whole new look and completely reengineered—it's even faster,   friendlier, and more fun to search.

· Recipe Box sync is now FREE: all your recipes—from anywhere on the Web—saved and searchable in one place.

· Manage all your recipes and shopping lists from anywhere on your iPhone, iPad, and desktop.

· No more smudge-y screens: Voice-activated commands in the Cook Mode let you follow recipes while keeping your hands free for cooking (available only on iPad).

· New fonts and bigger pictures make cooking from iPhone or iPad even easier.

· Search more than 30,000 editorially tested and member-rated recipes.

· Get inspired browsing new categories like Chocolate Desserts, Kid-Friendly Mains, Gluten-Free,      Stir-Fry Suppers, Low-Carb Mains, Healthy Dinners, and Hearty Sandwiches.

· The only app resource for recipes from the editors of Epicurious and Gourmet magazine, plus recipes from Bon App├ętit, Self, Random House, and more.

· Read comments and suggestions by other home cooks like you on tens of thousands of recipes.

· Thousands of mouth-watering images by today’s top food photographers.


Tonight, I tried this Turkish recipe from Arabesque, March 2009 Issue by Claudia Roden:

Yogurt Cake



Ingredients:
4 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
4 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 2/3 cups strained Greek-style yogurt
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract

Raspberry compote
1C frozen raspberries
1/2 cup sugar  1tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbsp. of water.

 
Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 F
Beat the eggs yolks with the sugar to a thick pale cream. Beat in the flour, then the yogurt, lemon zest, and lemon juice until it is throughly blended.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold them into the yogurt mixture. Pour this into a 9 inch round, nonstick baking tin, greased with butter or cooking spray.
Bake for 45-50 minutes until the top is brown. It will puff up like a souffle and then fall as it sets.
Turn out onto a serving plate and serve warm or cold.

Raspberry compote:
In a saucepan over medium heat bring raspberries and sugar to a simmer.  Stir in cornstarch mixture until desired thickness is achieved.  When compote cools, spread over cake.

 
Turkish Yogurt Cake with Raspberry Compote



With a texture somewhere in between an airy cheesecake and flan you know you gotta have a slice!




Sunday, June 1, 2014

Beavertails


Every year or two, I go with my wife to Ottawa to visit family and we always make a trip downtown to see the sights, tour the parliament buildings, visit the museums, walk down Sparks Street, shop at the Byward Market and grab one of my favourite treats: a Beavertail.
The Triple Trip, an ooey gooey guilty pleasure

Beavertails are Canadian treats, something like what you would find at a county fair, made of flat fried dough topped with delicious toppings.  Beavertails is a National Chain, founded in 1978 by Grant and Pam Hooker, who first sold their pastries at a local fair and two years later opened the first Beavertails location in Byward Market, Ottawa.
 
When we go to Beavertails, we get our usual favourites.  My wife's favourite is the Avalanche, which is a cream cheese icing, caramel and Skor bar bits.  Mine is the Triple Trip, made with Nutella, Reeses Pieces and peanut butter.  It was only during my visits to Ottawa that I was able to enjoy this treat, until today.

A Beavertails mobile location had a grand opening down on the Waterfront downtown St. John's today, so a friend and I checked it out (My wife is currently in Ottawa and can go to the original location).  It was quite busy, but the atmosphere was festive, with a beaver mascot and employees giving out free samples, temporary tattoos and balloons for the kids. 

I ordered my favourite, the Triple Trip.  If I closed my eyes, it would feel like I was on the corner of Byward Market (albeit sometime in October, it was chilly today).  At $7.00 for the "premium" Beavertails, the prices were the same as in Ottawa.  It is great to be able to have a Beavertail any time that I want, however seeing that beavertails are fried dough topped with chocolate, peanut butter and candy, it will have to be reserved as a special occasion treat.