Tag Archives: cooking video

Organic Xmas Truffles

Tis the season for office potlucks and endless holiday sweets. I have been eating my share of crockpot meatballs, seafood chowder, pasta salad, pate, yule logs and enough baking to choke a reindeer. Isn’t that what Xmas is all about? I like this time of year for the reason that people bring out their ‘signature’ dishes. The pride that comes from people’s faces as they see their friends and co-workers enjoying their creations is simply priceless.

I made a cooking video for genmai zosui a week ago and was just about to upload it when I realized that I haven’t made a Xmas video. My subscription box has been inundated with some great recipes and holiday treats and I didn’t have one of my own. Luckily, I have a quick recipe that’s decadent and sinful. Best of all, it’s organic, raw and actually good for you. You are going to love these truffles.

Here’s what you’re gonna need:

  • 2 1/4 cups cocoa
  • 1 cup coconut butter
  • 1T jaggery *
  • 1T maca *
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • hemp seeds, to coat
  • cocoa powder

Simply combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the coconut butter and maple syrup and mix well until you get a dough-like consistency. When the mixture is well blended, roll into balls and coat with cocoa powder or hemp seeds. If you want to add nuts, hazelnuts are the perfect size. Just pop them in the center as you roll the balls. Yeah, it’s that easy.

Chinese Chicken Soup – Making do

I am often moved whenever I get to be part of a family gathering, whether it be a holiday or something as simple as an Saturday afternoon meal. This past weekend, I visited a friend’s place in the country for some farm fresh chicken and a meal I wouldn’t soon forget.

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It started with a one hour drive north of Calgary. My friend, Jenny has a wonderful place out in the middle of some of the most serene and beautiful countryside in Southern Alberta. Our first stop was her sister, Patsy’s place. As we pulled up, the family was hard at work getting the birds ready for processing. We immediately changed into our overalls and pitched in to help.

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I always say it’s a good idea to see where our food comes from. We are often disconnected from the process that brings it to us, whether it be the lettuce for our salad or the grilled chicken in the yakitori. It’s easy to pick up a pre-portioned, neatly wrapped polystyrene tray of whatever at the supermarket without a second thought. I love talking to local food producers at the farmer’s market and hearing the stories behind their food and in turn, they love to talk about it. There’s a real pride that people still have in being able to provide something good for others. I felt that getting involved in the chicken processing would give me a little insight into the work that goes into producing our food.

That morning, the family each played their part, Dad feeding the fire, sisters Patsy and Van getting the birds ready for Mom, who was standing ready with the knife. Jenny and I were on plucking duty. Throughout the process, I would switch and try some of the other tasks, including Mom’s task of dispatching the birds. As we were nearing the completion of our jobs, Van announced she was taking one of the finished birds to the house to make lunch. I grabbed the camera to follow.

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The recipe that followed was one of the most simple, unpretentious meals I have eaten in a long time. Using what was on hand, Van made a great soup with the chicken meat, gizzards, eggs, ginger, tomatoes and a bit of salt. And with that one chicken, we fed the entire house.

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It was a good day. Mom talked about making do with what they had, remembering times when people would be lucky if they had one chicken in a month. We talked about how we would use parts of the animal that westerners normally throw away. I listened to great stories about sustainability, old traditions and family.

Family time can be something truly priceless, even when it’s not your own.

J

Perogies

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When I was in Winnipeg I had some amazing perogies at this local institution, Alycia’s. I’ve had perogies before, but like I have said countless times before, fresh is the ultimate way to go. The good people at Alycia’s hand craft thousands of perogies every day. This dedication is what makes Alycia’s what it is… a local legend. When I got home, Sue was already on the case, calling up her friends and family in search of the ultimate perogy recipe. So, taking a lot of the traditional methods from our ancestors, we have given this recipe a little bit of an organic twist and a flavor update.

In this perogy recipe we used spelt flour, an ancient grain that has a high protein and nutrient content. Instead of regular cheddar or cheez whiz, we used organic feta cheese. I think the taste that we achieved in this recipe was spot on. The texture of the dough is hearty with a nutty flavor. The feta adds an interesting tangy zip that you will enjoy. So if you’re ready to rock, let’s get started!

You will need:

  • 2 cups of spelt flour (or all-purpose)
  • 3/4 cups water
  • 1 egg

Combine these ingredients in a mixing bowl until you have yourself a rough ball of dough, kinda like the pasta recipe. Take the dough out of the bowl and work it on a nice surface until smooth. Next, roll out your dough until it’s 1/8 inch thick. Now let’s look at the filling…

  • 5-6 medium potatoes
  • 1 cup feta cheese
  • salt

Boil the potatoes til tender and mash until smooth. Crumble in the feta cheese and combine with the potatoes. Season with a little salt to taste. That’s the filling. Let’s assemble!

Using a medium sized drinking glass as a template, cut circles into the dough sheet. These will be the wrappers for your perogies. Spoon a little potato filling into the center of each circle, leaving about a centimeter of wrapper around the edge. Whenever making dumplings, it’s easy to overfill. It takes practice, but don’t fret… it doesn’t have to be perfect. We’re not making 3 star restaurant cuisine. We’re making non-pretentious, homemade comfort food.

Fold the wrapper over the filling and crimp the edges shut. If you want to, use a little water to moisten the edges to ensure a good seal. Repeat for the rest of your perogies. You see? The ones you made near the end of the batch look better already! Good job.

Get a pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add your perogies and cook until they float on the surface. Once they float, give them a couple minutes before taking them out to serve. Perogies are traditionally served with caramelized onion, bacon and sour cream. I like them with just onion but play around and see what you like. Enjoy, have fun in the kitchen and take care!

J

An Update

Cha Siu tacos

I have had a brilliant October so far. We bought a camper, took my baby on her first camping trip, celebrated Thanksgiving on the ridge and went to Australia to see the land down under. All I can say is that I have a lot of inspiration and have been busy writing and creating recipes for new cooking videos. In addition, I have lots of video and photos to go through so I can share with you, hopefully to give you some inspiration as well.

As you know, Halloween is on the way and our children will soon be out in full force, trick or treating and stuffing their gobs with sugary excess. I for one, don’t mind candy…as a treat. I often find that through the years, the kids get so much candy…too much to finish! This year, I wanted to share an idea that Sue has been practicing for a number of years with her kids. It’s called the Halloween Fairy.

Basically, the kids come home from trick or treating with a bag full of candy. The kids get to keep a small amount and put the rest in a bowl at the foot of their bed for the “Halloween Fairy”. In the morning, the children wake to find a small toy in place of the type 2 diabetes. lol. I thought it was a clever idea.

In Calgary, a local dentist is organizing a candy buyback program. Kids bring in their candy and get a dollar per pound of the sweets they bring in. In addition, they are entered into a draw for a new iPod!

Please let me know if you have any great ideas for a healthy Halloween!

 What’s coming up for future episodes of The Aimless Cook? Street food. My traveling has given me such inspiration and I love the influence that different cultures bring to local cuisine. I think that the most underrated cooks in the world of food are the ones that toil in the background, working on their craft, pursuing their passion for the sole purpose of getting to keep doing what they love to do. That is why I am going to do a series of cooking videos on street food from around the world. Simple food cooked with heart, often with a rich and interesting history that I hope you will enjoy watching and tasting.

That is what’s happening here at The Aimless Cook. Thank you so much for watching and subscribing! Have fun in the kitchen and take care.

J

Fresh Handmade Pasta

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When it comes to great food, fresh is the ultimate way to go. Give me something made on-the-spot opposed to pre-packaged any day. In fact, I try to keep my consumption of packaged food minimal to zero. In today’s world, it’s getting increasingly difficult to keep everything simple. With all our time wrapped up in work, driving the kids to hockey practice, juggling schedules and generally stressing out, it’s simply easier to choose the convenient solution. I want to tell you that it doesn’t have to be like that. Today, I will show you a recipe for handmade pasta. It’s not something new. In fact, pasta has been made like this since the dawn of time… but it’s so easy and quick to do, you’ll be delightfully surprised. I often find making pasta and working with my hands to be quite therapeutic, so if you want some time to chill out and relax, make some pasta. The taste will make you never buy the box stuff again.
This recipe is simple. All you need is:

  • 1 egg per person
  • about 100g per person, all purpose, semolina or spelt flour

 Start with a mound of flour on your work surface or large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle, like a science project volcano. Add your eggs in the well and start to gently beat the eggs with a fork, slowly bringing in flour from the sides of the well. You want to do this until the mixture turns into a rough ball of dough. Take the dough ball in your hands and squeeze it. Does it feel sticky? If so, dust with a little more flour. If it’s too dry, add a drop or 2 of water, but not too much.

Knead the dough on your work surface for at least 15 minutes to get the elasticity working. Dust the surface with flour and work the ball with the heels of your hands, pushing away from you. Bring it back and repeat. Feels good, doesn’t it? Once you have given the dough a good workout, set aside for about 10-15 minutes. This resting time will make the dough easier to roll.

When you ready to roll, dust your rolling pin and surface lightly with flour. Roll the dough, rotating every so often and flipping over until you get it thin. You want to roll this thin enough to see through, since your pasta will expand to twice the thickness when you boil it. Trust me on this one. If the sheet gets too big to handle, you can cut it into manageable pieces and work from there. Once you have the dough thin enough, you can cut the noodles. Dust the dough sheet with flour and fold in half. Using a large chef’s knife, but the sheet into noodles as wide as you want. If you have kids, you can get them involved, cutting their own noodles with butter knives or rotary cutters and letting them watch you cook it. It’s good fun!

Fresh pasta takes only a couple minutes to cook. Get a pot of salted water to a rolling boil and add the pasta. Serve up with your favorite sauce and enjoy… no, really… sit back and savor your handiwork. You just made fresh pasta. You rock!

J

Sunflower Seed “Meat” Patties

This is a great recipe that I hope you’ll enjoy. More importantly, it’s healthy and handy to have in the fridge when you need a quick snack or wrap. I had been looking at different vegan meat alternatives that ventured from the usual tofu or tempeh territory…something different. Taking a page from the raw foodists recipe books, I have come up with this wonderful and flavorful recipe for my meat alternative using sunflower seeds. Hope you enjoy!

You will need:

  • 2 cups of raw sunflower seeds, soaked overnight and drained
  • 3 green onions and 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 carrot and 2 stalks celery
  • 1/4 cup each, basil and parsley
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomato
  • a dash of soy sauce or braggs

 * raw sunflower seeds need to be soaked and drained to remove enzymes that make the absorption of nutrients difficult. These are natural protective enzymes that protect the seeds until they come into contact with water and begin germination.

Give your ingredients a rough chop and put into the food processor. Give them a good whizz til you have yourself a nicely blended paste. taste and season with soy, salt and pepper. Spread onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or silpat, or spread onto teflex sheets and pop in the dehydrator. If you are using the oven, just bake on 250F til it’s dry enough to cut into pieces or crumble. Alternatively, you can form your mixture into patties and make yourself some garden burgers. Serve in wraps, salads, sandwiches, crumble on pasta…this stuff is so versatile, it’s not even funny. You need this in your standard repertoire. Enjoy, make it yours and have fun in the kitchen!

J

Nilaga

I have been so busy with my traveling and writing that I have so much to tell you about. If you have been watching my YouTube channel, you will know that I recently returned from a trip to Australia. It was a wonderful journey, taking me to the cities of Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney. It was fascinating to see the influence of culture on the local food scene. You can be assured that I have been taking a lot of notes and working on ideas for new and unique recipes.

But for now, let’s take a look at a recipe that I have had online for some time. I want to share with you a great Filipino recipe from my mom. It’s the perfect comfort food for when the weather is getting colder and a very hearty dinner that can be enjoyed as a soup or with steamed rice. It is called Nilaga and requires very few ingredients. The thing I love about Nilaga is that it’s flavor is dependent on the few ingredients it has. Simple food is often the most complex in terms of creating a flavor profile that’s pure. The key is to use high quality, fresh ingredients. That’s it. Take your time with this dish and you will be rewarded.

You will need:

  • 1/2 kg beef, cubed
  • 2 large carrots, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 2 large potatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 head cabbage, wedged
  • 1 handful of long beans, cut into 3-4 inch lengths
  • S & P to season
  • 10 whole peppercorns
  • 3-4 Tbsp fish sauce (patis)

Start with a couple tablespoons of oil in a large pot or pressure cooker and saute your onions and garlic. Once you have sweated the onions and garlic, add the beef and brown lightly. Once the beef is ready, add 1 liter of water, the peppercorns and the patis. Give the mixture a quick stir, cover and simmer til the beef is tender. This will take about an hour or so. If you’re using a pressure cooker, it should take about 35-40 minutes.

When the beef is tender, add the potatoes and carrots and cook until tender. Once that is done, just finish off by adding the cabbage and long bean. These will only take a couple minutes to quickly steam. Grab a spoon and give your broth a taste. Season with S&P and more patis if you so desire. Serve as a soup or with freshly steamed rice. Enjoy!

My Slow Food Movement

I have had a great summer of camping, mountain biking, hiking, swimming and long boarding. Best of all, I have been able to give my children some great experiences and memories. Life is beautiful.

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What’s coming to The Aimless Cook?

Slow Food. Last weekend, my friend had a farewell party before moving away to another city. I did something radical to some by giving them my microwave. I have never lived without a microwave since I was 9 years old when my parents bought this woodgrain monstrosity sporting dial controls and an analogue clock. I thought about the whole thing and realized that I really only use the microwave to reheat and defrost things. I might bake the odd potato or steam some vegetables, but other than that, it sits on the counter taking up space. Since I learned to cook real meals, I have had no real need for something that has become the one stop convenience appliance for heating up the pre-packaged crap that some test kitchen calls food.

The Slow Food movement is grabbing hold of my life as I look every day at what’s happening to the way we eat as a society. We are a culture that is being indoctrinated on convenience and the perception that we just don’t have enough time to enjoy the simple things in life anymore. What started for me as an observation of my effect on the environment through my buying habits has turned into something deeper. Who says I don’t have time? We can be our worst enemies sometimes and unconsciously sabotage our own good intentions. All I’ve got to say is take a step back sometime and look at your life, and more importantly, relax.

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Check out www.slowfood.com to get some information of what I’m talking about. In most cases, there is a huge amount of food being produced near you right now and readily available for you to take home and enjoy. Yet, we go to the grocery store and insist on buying apples flown in from New Zealand or buying Lunchables for our kids while the local deli has a fresher, preservative-free, more delicious assortment of locally produced meats and cheeses. Well, you get the idea. It’s all about the way we’re thinking, and as a result, the way we’re buying.

So the show will be taking a deeper look at slow food as we take action in our lives and make more educated choices about what we eat and buy. We will be taking steps to reduce our waste by eliminating the take-out containers, buying more bulk, refilling existing containers when possible and generally being conscious of what we spend our money on.

J

Ratatouille

As summer is drawing to a close, I wanted to take advantage of the fresh produce from the farmer’s market. In this case, I brought home an assortment of some beautiful vegetables from the local producers. What better way to showcase this bounty than with the classic French dish, Ratatouille. This dish is a very simple one to make and ranks up there with some of my favorite comfort foods. I hope you enjoy it!

You will need:

  • 1 large eggplant (aubergine), diced
  • 4 vine tomatoes, diced
  • 1 head fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  •  fresh or dried basil and oregano
  • S & P, to season

Start by sweating out the onions in a couple tablespoons of olive oil for about 7-8 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking until fragrant. Once that’s done, put in the red bell pepper and zucchini and mix well. Season with the basil and oregano (about a Tbsp of each) and let cook for a couple minutes to give those harder vegetables a little head start.

Next, add the tomatoes. If you want to use canned, you can (excuse the pun). Just use whole or diced tomatoes and let them break down in the simmer. You want to let that mixture cook on medium heat until you draw the liquid from the tomatoes. At that point, add the eggplant and simmer until everything is tender. Season with S & P before plating up. You can chop the veg coursely if you are going to use this dish as a main course. It makes the final product nice and hearty and I like to serve it with steamed rice. Alternatively, you can chop the ingredients into fine dices and make a sauce that you can serve on pasta. It’s all up to you. Be creative!

So that’s Ratatouille in a nutshell. Take home this recipe and make it yours. Have fun in the kitchen and take care!

J

J’s Bibimbap

Bibimbap ver 2.0

I can honestly tell you that this recipe is one that I’m particularly proud of. I have had many bibimbap before, but this version takes some beautiful things and brings them together in a sweet symphony of taste and comfort that is hard to forget. I researched and watched great cooks like Maangchi and Aeriskitchen on YouTube to get the basic knowledge of the making of bibimbap. I was also inspired by Roy Choi (the mind behind the Kogi trucks) to bring something fresh to the party.

Bibimbap is a Korean dish that means, “mixed rice”. The plan for this recipe will be simple: just prepare and cook the toppings and assemble on the rice. There is a lot of prep involved with bibimbap, but I assure you, the reward for all your hard work makes it all worthwhile. So roll up your sleeves and get ready!

Start with some roasted garlic. Take a few bulbs of fresh garlic and cut in half. Place them on a sheet of foil, drizzle with olive oil and season with a touch of salt. Wrap in the foil and put into a 350F oven for 40 minutes. Make sure you have at least 3 bulbs, since we are going to use this garlic as a base for a couple of our ingredients.

The Beef:

Take 1/2 lb of ground beef and marinate with 1/2 tsp of sugar, sake, soy and sesame oil. Also season with a shake of garlic powder and S&P. Let it sit in the fridge for about 15 minutes to get tasty then brown in a skillet til done. Set aside.

The Spinach:

Steam a bunch of fresh spinach til wilted. Set aside. *you can use half a package of frozen if you like

Cucumber & Carrot:

All you need to do here is take a carrot and a cucumber and cut into matchsticks. Quickly cook the carrot in a pan for about 30 seconds before serving. You want to draw out a little natural sugar here.

Maitake:

Maitake is a Japanese mushroom which have a nice, tender texture. If you like, you can also use shiitake. Just lightly sautee 2 cups in a pan then add 1 Tablespoon of sugar, mirin and soy sauce. Cook to thicken the sauce then set aside.

Bean Sprouts:

Lightly saute a handful of bean sprouts for about 30 seconds with a dash of sesame oil then set aside.

The Sauces:

We will start with the hot gochujang sauce. Grab a bowl and put in 3 Tablespoons of gochujang (available at the Korean grocery). Add 1/2 teaspoon of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of Chinese red vinegar, 1 teaspoon of roasted sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and 1 teaspoon of honey. To that mix, squeeze in one of the bulbs of the roasted garlic you made at the beginning. Pop into the blender and let it rip til well blended.

The next sauce is true epic awesomeness. It’s versatile, you can use it almost anywhere (on rice, chicken, fish, pork, tofu, salad, etc). It’s a roasted garlic and cilantro emulsion that will make sweet love to your taste buds and leave in the morning. Start with a clean blender and put in 1 bunch of fresh cilantro. Squeeze in a couple bulbs of the roasted garlic and add the juice of 3 limes and 1/2 cup of canola or grapeseed oil. Blend until saucy then give it a taste. Season with S&P and you’re done!

Assembly:

Now that you have all your ingredients ready to go, it’s time to assemble. Start by putting a serving of steamed rice in a nice big bowl and squirt on some of the garlic cilantro sauce. Going around the edges like a clock, add the bean sprouts, cucumber, carrot, maitake and spinach. Alternate the colors to make it look interesting. Put the ground beef in the center of the arrangement with a dollop of gochujang sauce on top. Finish this with a silky soft poached egg and sprinkle on a little furikake. Now step back and take a picture. This dish looks great and you did it all by yourself.

So that’s it for my version of bibimbap. I hope you try this at home and enjoy it. The spicy taste of the gochujang contrasts nicely with the lime and cilantro flavors that will give you a nice punch in the face. So like always, have fun in the kitchen and take care!

J