Tag Archives: snack

Calgary Stampede 2013 – Midway Food!

Stampede 2013 with The Aimless Cook

The Calgary Stampede is back and so is all the excitement that comes with it. I was on the Stampede midway last night and sampled some of the latest offerings that the food vendors had to offer. Among the classics, like corndogs, tacos, flautas, mini-donuts, and ginormous turkey legs, the bar was raised once again with the typical deep-fried shock-fest of offerings such as deep-fried Oreos, cheesecakes, Philly Cheesesteaks, and butter. Yeah…deep-fried butter. Here are a few of the items I had the pleasure (or displeasure) of sampling…

The classic corndog

This is my favourite food item under the “meat-on-a-stick” category. Whenever I visit the Stampede, this is one thing I cannot leave without having. Crunchy battered exterior, yielding to a perfectly cooked mystery meat in tube form underneath. This is street food genius on a stick. Just mustard, please!

Eggroll-on-a-stick

This is basically exactly what it says it is, and as a result of eating this, I ask the simple question…why? Eggrolls are finger food, meant to be eaten with your hands. They’re already made into a form that promotes portability and ease of consumption. Why complicate things by adding a stick? Now grab some wontons, make them super-sized, fry them up and put 4 on a skewer. There’s something I can enjoy on the midway!

Chocolate-dipped Jalapenos

I honestly thought I would enjoy these. The heat of the peppers in play with the dark chocolate sound intriguing, but I was dead wrong. Since the jalapenos are fresh, they emit that raw, very powerful heat that just overwhelms the palate in a way that the chocolate just can’t compete with. Another one of those snacks for late night drinking challenges when it’s time for truth or dare.

Deep-fried Butter

This just sounds wrong on a lot of levels, unless you’re a huge fan of Paula Deen’s cooking. Chunks of cold butter are wrapped in pie dough and deep-fried. As a result, what you end up with is a pile of deceptive little morsels of molten-hot, artery clogging pastry bites. Since the butter inside is melted, you get this crispy on the outside, raw dough inside bite that’s just not appetizing at all. They’re a little better dipped in ice cream, but if you want a better experience for your buck, just get churros and ice cream.

Naaco TNT

Calgary food truck, The Naaco Truck, brings their unique spin on Indian cuisine to the streets, and at this year’s Stampede, they have brought the Naaco TNT. The TNT is chef and owner, Aman Adatia’s take on the famous Indian street snack, Jhal muri which features a colourful and refreshing mix of local produce, puffed rice, fried chickpeas, cornflakes, cilantro, lime and a tangy tamarind dresssing. Put that mix into a paper cone, add a stick (in this case, a tongue depressor) to scoop it all up, and go hard. I love this dish. Unlike all the other fried offerings that are constantly trying to out-shock each other, the Naaco TNT is fresh, healthy and incredibly delicious. The textures of the dry ingredients interplay with the crisp cucumbers and sweet corn to give your mouth a very pleasant experience.

The flavour profile focuses on the fresh, local vegetables and are a nice complement to the tang of tamarind and lime juice in the dressing. The pineapple also adds a nice hit of sweetness to round things out. Beautiful.

There are a lot of foods on the midway that are out to challenge your perception and tastebuds. Some are way out there while there are still the good old classics. What are some of your favourite midway foods?

Okara Fritters – The Aimless Cook at Downtownfood

Okara Fritters by The Aimless Cook

On today’s show, I am with Chef Darren Maclean from Downtownfood as we make some delicious okara fritters on part 3 of our special on soybeans.

The first thing you’re gonna need is some okara. Okara is the leftover lees, or pulp from the soymilk making process, and if you haven’t watched our soymilk episode, you can watch it by clicking the annotation or on the link in the video description below.

We put together something simple using some minced pork and vegetables that we’ll include in today’s recipe, but you can use whatever ingredients you have on hand.

You will need:

  • 7 oz. okara
  • 3 oz. minced pork
  • 1 teaspoon chili paste
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • ½ cup oyster mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons kimchi
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup dashi

Combine the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix well to make a batter. Put in saucepan on medium high and cook slowly for about 6-8 minutes, stirring often until the mixture absorbs most of the liquid. You should have something like thick pancake batter or mashed potatoes.

Heat some oil in a pot or deep fryer to about 325F. Using 2 spoons, carefully drop the batter into the oil and cook for 4-5 minutes until golden brown.

Drain well on paper towels and serve with your favourite toppings.

We used green onions, nitsume (unagi sauce), gochujang, and kewpie mayo.

The first thing I should say about these okara fritters is that they are very light and fluffy in texture. The okara absorbs flavours very well resulting in a very tasty bite.

What is your favourite deep-fried food?

Ginataang Bilo Bilo – Filipino Merienda Food

Ginataang bilo bilo by The Aimless Cook

Ginataang Bilo Bilo is a type of Filipino snack or dessert made by cooking root vegetables and fruit in sweetened coconut milk with chewy balls of mochi (bilo bilo). Taro, ube, and sweet potato make up the base of this incredibly unique tropical treat with jackfruit providing that touch of tartness. Finish that off with chewy mochi and tapioca pearls and you have something truly magical. I have enjoyed this dish since I was a child and now I want to share it with you!

 

 You will need:

  • 1 cup Mochiko
  • 2 cups taro, diced
  • 2 cups ube, diced
  • 2 cups sweet potato, diced
  • 2 cups cooked tapioca (small)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cans coconut milk + 2 cans water
  • *saba (banana) or jackfruit
  • *pandan leaves for aromatics

 

Mix the mochiko with about 11 tablespoons of water to make a dough. Once the dough is made, take a marble-sized piece and roll into a ball. Set aside.

In a large pot, add 2 cans of coconut milk and 2 cans of water. Stir in 2 cups of sugar and the pandan leaves (if you have them). Heat over medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Bring to a simmer, then add 2 cups of diced taro, 2 cups of diced ube and 2 cups of sweet potato. Continue to cook, stirring frequently. Halfway through the cooking, add the bilo bilo (mochi balls), one at a time so that they don’t stick together. At this time, you can also add your saba or jackfruit.

When the bilo bilo are done, they will float to the top of the liquid. At this point, add 2 cups of cooked tapioca and continue cooking until the ube and sweet potatoes are tender.

Give a final taste and adjust the sweetness if needed. Ginataan can be served hot, or refrigerated overnight and served cold.

 

**this would be a great topping on shaved ice. Just sayin’.


Do you enjoy hot or cold desserts?

Thai – Inspired Poutine Recipe

Thai Poutine by The Aimless Cook

Today, I’m taking a Canadian classic and giving it a little bit of Thai love. I’m making a Thai-Inspired Poutine with sweet potato fries, fresh cheese curds, a rich coconut curry gravy and crispy skin chicken. There are a lot of beautiful things going on in this recipe that you are gonna love. Let’s cook!

You will need:

  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons red Thai curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 750ml chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 package of cheese curds (Bothwell makes a brand called Squeekers)
  • 2 chicken thighs, deboned and flattened (skin on)
  • fresh cilantro
  • fresh lime
  • sweet potato fries (or regular fries)

In a wok, start by heating a couple tablespoons of oil. Add the shallot and garlic and stirfry for about 30 seconds. Add the curry paste and powder, combine and cook for about 3 minutes until the mixture darkens and becomes aromatic.

Once the curry mixture is ready, add the coconut milk and chicken stock. Whisk it all together, then add the fish sauce and sugar. Let it come to a boil, turn down to medium, and let simmer uncovered for about 15 – 20 minutes.

You can make your fries from scratch if you like, and you can find the recipe right here. For convenience sake, I went the way of buying them at the grocery store and baking them in the oven.

For the crispy skin chicken, I simply de-boned the thighs and laid them out flat like cutlets, preserving the skin (of course). Season well on both sides with salt and pepper and heat up a small skillet with oil on high heat. Lay the chicken down on the hot pan skin-side down and cook until golden brown on both sides. Since it’s thin, it won’t take long to cook (about 4 minutes per side). When they’re done, take them out and set aside to rest for about 10 minutes.

After the curry sauce has been simmering for 15 – 20 minutes, you’ll notice it has reduced by about a third. Test the consistency with a spoon. It should coat the back of a spoon. Give it a final taste and season to your liking. Now it’s time to assemble!

Grab a nice big bowl and put down a layer of fries with a few cheese curds on top. Add some gravy on top, then continue with another layer of fries and cheese curds. Add the crispy skin chicken (sliced into strips), then ladle more gravy on top. Make sure you get gravy on the cheese curds so they melt. Finish with fresh chopped cilantro and serve with lime wedges.

If you’ve had poutine before, then you’ll love this new twist. All the flavours of classic Thai cuisine are here with the gooey cheese and rich flavourful sauce. The crispy skin chicken has a wonderful crunch and is tender and juicy. Enjoy this recipe and have fun in the kitchen!

What is your favourite melty cheese dish?

Pickled Jalapenos

Pickled Jalapenos by The Aimless Cook

Pickled jalapenos are so easy to make, you’ll wonder why you’ve been buying them all this time! Best of all, you can use this recipe for carrots, daikon, or whatever you’re favourite vegetable happens to be. They’re delicious on tacos, nachos, omelettes, or in this case, breakfast tostadas. Try for yourself and discover your own amazing combination!

You will need:

  • 1lb fresh jalapenos, cut into ⅛” slices
  • 1 ½ cups palm vinegar (or any light coloured vinegar)
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup sugar

Grab a container large enough to fit the jalapenos, put them in, and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the liquid ingredients and whisk together. Bring to a boil, stirring til the sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from heat, pour over the jalapenos and allow to cool thoroughly. When cool, put in the refrigerator and let sit overnight. That’s it!

Pickled jalapenos are awesome. The pickling tones down the heat and gives them a nice gentle heat. They’re versatile too, as you can use them on almost anything. Check out these amazingly simple breakfast tostadas using just a few everyday ingredients.

  • tostadas (available at the grocery store in the Mexican food section)
  • eggs
  • bacon, chorizo or longonisa
  • shredded cheese
  • fresh cilantro
  • lime juice
  • salsa
  • sour cream or crema
  • pickled jalapenos
  • avocadoes

Use your imagination! You can use whatever you have in the fridge to make a colourful and tasty breakfast that’s a fresh departure from the usual. Have fun in the kitchen!

What do you like to put your pickled jalapenos on?

Scrambled eggs like a BOSS: http://youtu.be/MMtlZ8DEZTo
Salsa & Pico de Gallo vid: http://youtu.be/nfRuI7mbRYk

Gua Bao – Taiwanese Pork Belly Sliders

Gua Bao by The Aimless Cook

Gua Bao are a popular Taiwanese street food. Slider-sized handfuls of slowly braised pork belly, stuffed into steamed buns with red sugar, crushed peanuts and cilantro. These are flavourful and delicious little sandwiches that are sure to bring happiness wherever you bring them. Enjoy!

For the pork you will need:

  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 500g pork belly, skin on
  • 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 liter water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • 4 cloves
  • ½ teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
  • 1 ½ bulbs of garlic, (separated to cloves, but you don’t have to peel them)

for the rest:

  • hoisin sauce
  • Taiwanese red sugar, or jaggery
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • roasted peanuts, crushed
  • fresh steamed bao (Chinese buns)*

Heat oil in a heavy pot or dutch oven on med high heat. Brown the pork belly on all sides. Add the soy sauce to both sides of the pork after its browned.

Immediately after, add 1 litre of water, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise, 4 cloves, ½ teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder and the cloves from 1 ½ bulbs of garlic. Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer covered for about 1.5 hours or until tender.

When the pork is finished, carefully take out and slice into ½ inch pieces. Serve in the steamed buns and garnish with crushed peanuts, red sugar, hoisin and fresh cilantro.

Toppings for this Taiwanese sandwich are gonna be a little different than what you’re used to in a North American sandwich. I’m starting with some hoisin sauce, followed by some Taiwanese red sugar, or in this case, some jaggery. It’s a type of cane sugar that I got from the Indian market. Also I have some roasted crushed peanuts for texture and finally some fresh chopped cilantro. The cilantro is gonna cut the richness of the pork.

*You can find pre-made Chinese buns in your local Asian grocery. If not, you can do what I’ve done before and make them from Pillsbury biscuit dough. Just cut into rounds, fold over and steam for 15 minutes.

Pork belly is very rich and tender when it’s braised. Some people are put off by the fattiness of it. How about you? Are you put off by certain food textures or qualities?

Jjajangmyeon – Korean Noodles with Black Bean Sauce

Jjajangmyeon by The Aimless Cook

Today we’re making my version of Jjajangmyeon. It’s a Korean wheat noodle bowl with a pork and black bean sauce that’s derived from a Chinese dish called zhajiangmian. There’s an instant version of this dish called “Chapaghetti” that’s quite popular in the grocery store, but to me it tastes awful. The real thing is very tasty and relatively inexpensive to prepare and perfect for weekday cooking. Let’s cook Jjajangmyeon!

You will need:

  • 8 oz pork shoulder, diced (or ground)
  • 1 cup carrot, diced
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 swizzle shaoxing cooking wine
  • 1 ½ tablespoons black bean sauce
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch (with a little water)
  • ½ English cucumber, julienned
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Heat up a couple tablespoons of oil in a wok on high heat then add the onion and garlic. Cook for a couple minutes before adding the diced carrot. Since the carrot is small, it shouldn’t need a long time to cook. Just stir-fry for a minute or so to give it a head start then let’s move on.

Next, open up a space in the bottom of the wok by pushing the veg aside and add the pork. I used diced pork shoulder because I like the texture, but if you’re in a hurry, you can use ground pork instead. Add a swizzle of shaoxing cooking wine. What a swizzle? Pour a little of the wine once ‘around the block’, or in this case, around the wok. This will add a little fragrance and aroma to the dish. When you’re done, cook the mixture until the pork is no longer pink.

Now that the pork is just cooked, add the black bean sauce. It’s available in a lot of grocery stores these days in the Asian section. It’s quite salty, so be sure not to add too much. Mix it all together thoroughly before adding the chicken stock. Mix again to combine and let simmer for another 2 or 3 minutes til the pork is done. Finally, the corn starch mixed with a little warm water to the wok and let thicken.

Give the sauce a final taste. Counter with a little brown sugar to balance out the saltiness of the black bean. When it tastes just right, you’re done!

Fresh noodles are best, and a lot of grocery stores carry chow mein noodles these days. Simply boil them in salted water for about 2 – 3 minutes then strain. If you have instant ramen, those work as well.

To assemble, start by putting the noodles in a large bowl (you need room to mix them when you serve). Top with a generous amount of the pork and black bean sauce on one side. Finish the other side with some fresh julienned cucumber then serve.

To enjoy, simply mix the whole thing together and that’s all there is to it!

What’s your favourite brand of instant noodles?

Natto Gohan (Fermented Soybeans on Rice)

Natto Gohan by The Aimless Cook

This particular Japanese style breakfast is one of the simplest to make. In fact, I make this whenever I need a quick snack. This is natto gohan.

You will need:

  • a couple packs of natto (available in the Asian grocer’s freezer)
  • some steamed rice
  • 2 eggs (raw, or soft poached)
  • furikake
  • chopped green onions
  • soy sauce

Natto is fermented soybeans which, like miso, are rich in protein. They are, however, an acquired taste since they have a powerful smell and slimy consistency. If you like stinky cheese, It’s nothing you haven’t experienced before and I highly recommend you try it.

Natto

Natto is sold in the freezer section of the local Asian grocery and is packaged in foam containers like these. They usually come with packets of tare (a tiny stock flavouring) and karashi mustard. The moment you open it, you’ll know what I mean about the slimy texture. To prepare the natto, just add the 2 packets and mix well with chopsticks.

Now grab a bowl ‘cause it’s time to put everything together.

Start with a large bowl with enough room to mix. Put in a couple scoops of freshly steamed rice and top with the natto. Make some room on the other side of the bowl for your egg. In this case, I’m using a fresh raw egg. If you don’t do raw eggs, you can use a soft poached egg instead. Lastly, I’m adding furikake to finish. Chopped green onions are are delicious as well so use them if you got them.

To enjoy, simply season with a little soy sauce and mix everything together. That’s it!

Natto gohan can be enjoyed on its own or with a nice bowl of miso soup. You can make natto gohan even better with some diced avocado or some raw tuna. Take this recipe, make it yours and have fun in the kitchen!

Do you like natto? Would you ever try it?

Buffalo Style Roasted Cauliflower

Buffalo Style Roasted Cauliflower

Cauliflower is beautiful when roasted. It takes on a golden colour and the taste is transformed! I found this recipe on the internet and thought I’d share it with you.

You will need (for 4):

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoons garlic salt
  • 1 cup your favourite hot sauce (Frank’s works well with this recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

your favourite dressing (Bleu cheese, dill, etc)
In a large bowl, combine the dry mustard, garlic salt, flour and buttermilk. Whisk together until smooth, then set aside.

Gently add the cauliflower in the bowl and lightly toss to completely coat with the buttermilk mixture.

Place the cauliflower in a shallow baking dish (with non-stick spray) and bake in a 450F oven for about 15-18 minutes and you start to see a little colour. Meanwhile, combine the hot sauce and butter in a small bowl.

Carefully remove the cauliflower from the oven and pour the sauce mixture over it, stirring gently to coat evenly. Put the cauliflower back in the oven and cook for another 5-8 minutes until the sauce is baked in. When it’s done, simply plate up with your favourite dressing and enjoy!

Take this recipe with you, make it yours and have fun in the kitchen, which brings me to my question of the day:

Do you have a recipe to transform an otherwise boring vegetable?

 

source: The Curvy Carrot

Sesame Shrimp Toast

Sesame Shrimp Toast

We’re making a popular item from the dim sum cart. You can also find this item if you’ve ever found yourself at a snack house late at night with your friends. I’m talking about shrimp toast, and this Thai version of sesame shrimp toast features the flavours of fish sauce, lemongrass and fresh limes for a bit of a cool twist. Enjoy this as a nice, crispy snack with an ice cold beer or serve as a fancy appetizer for your next party. Your friends are gonna love this one!

You will need:

  • 14 oz. raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced lemongrass
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 or 2 red Thai chilies, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 egg
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 8 thick slices of white bread, crusts cut off
  • ½ cup sesame seeds
  • ½ bunch fresh cilantro
  • fresh limes, to garnish
  • oil for frying (canola or peanut)
  • sweet Thai chili sauce, for dipping

Start by putting the shrimp in a food processor. To that, add 1 egg, lemongrass, garlic cloves, Thai chilies, fish sauce, the juice from the grated ginger and a pinch of salt. Process until the mixture forms a thick paste. Check the mix. If it’s too thin, add the cornstarch to tighten up the mixture. When that’s done, set aside.

Cut the crusts off the bread. Spread about a tablespoon of the shrimp mixture on the bread slices and dip the shrimp side into a saucer of sesame seeds.

In a cast iron skillet, heat up a couple inches of oil until you can fry a small piece of bread in about 30 seconds (350F). If it cooks too fast, carefully take off the heat and wait until it’s the right temperature. If the oil is too hot, the shrimp won’t cook. If the oil is too cool, the bread will absorb the oil and you’ll get greasy toast.

When the oil is ready, carefully place the toast in the oil, shrimp side down. Cook for about 30-45 seconds or until its golden brown. Turn over and cook the other side for the same amount of time. When done, gently take it out and drain on a tray with paper towels.

To serve, cut into triangles or sticks, garnish with chopped cilantro leaves and enjoy with Spicy Thai Chili sauce and fresh lime wedges.

Shrimp toast is one of my favourite Asian snacks and I hope you enjoy it too. Take this recipe with you, make it yours and have fun in the kitchen!

What is your favourite dim sum item?