22 November 2017

crepectations

^ stolen from one of the many posts I've consulted on crepe recipe. I also *just* realized that the 葱油饼 that my family makes (not the yeasted bread kind you'll get if you order at a restaurant) is practically a crepe batter. I've always been delegated with cooking them growing up. We usually eat them with congee and a couple of other dishes.

This post is most definitely about crepes, but also other pan-made goodies such as pancakes, and flatbreads. All the dough-y goodness I can make without an oven! Unbelievable that it took me 2 months to remember this entire category of food.

My hit list:
  • Regular crepes and buckwheat ones if I correctly recall seeing buckwheat flour at Sainsbury. I can also easily bring these to school as a snack. Filled with gooseberry jam ofc, ricotta & honey, stewed fruits, sweet condensed milk, duche de leche, salted caramel sauce, creme fraiche, mascarpone cheese, ham & cheese (and fried egg). Also finally an excuse to try out speculoos spread. 
  • Basically most of the pancakes from Smitten Kitchen's archives: fluffy buttermilk, apple, sour cream, corn, carrot cake, summer berries, winter squash. One more from Serious Eats: bacon, cheddar and corn. If I'm feeling keen, try to consolidate these into a master+modification pancake recipe. 
  • Flatbread. I thought about naan, but I figure a tandoor is too different from a non-stick pan. 
A realistic schedule would be...1 per every non-lecture week? That would last until about summer. A long but delicious project :) 

21 November 2017

snowdonia

I'm spoiled for dairy products being in the UK. Milk is cheap and delicious. Yoghurt is cheap and delicious. There's so many cream products. And above all, there's all the cheese. Fun fact: cheddar originated in Somerset (the county Bath is in).

I've so far only gone to one cheesemonger in Bath (Nibbles Cheese) where I took my first step down the rabbit hole with these:

Keen's Cheddar

I thought this one is just good. An obvious improvement to supermarket cheddar in every aspect, but also not outstanding in any aspect. Would not re-purchase but it sets me up to appreciate the following 2 cheese.

Wyfe of Bath (gyuyere style)

I didn't know about this at all until I was at the counter where this was featured as the cheese of the week. A little note said that this is made 20km from Bath, of course I get sucked into buying a piece of the hyperlocal cheese.
This taste obviously different, predominately grassy and maybe a bit nutty? It taste like a direct translation of the grass that the cows ate, which I know doesn't sound very appetizing but it is. I didn't expect to enjoy the grassy taste as I'm not a fan of green teas, but man I really like this and will repurchase.

The best for last:

In short, the first excellent (as in objectively a different tier) cheese I've eaten. The texture is creamy (must be room temperature to fully appreciate), yet there's granules or crystals that adds a delightful crunch. It's fluffy and basic food blog language, but also very true in this case. I recall reading that good aged parmigiana-reggiano have that granular structure, will have to scout one out in Bologna and see. The flavour is best described as intense. I tend to eat bite after bite of Wyfe of Bath, but only take nibbles of this cheese. I imagine that a sesame brittle and cold grapes would go well with this, but I've literally never paired cheese before. Will definitely be buying more of this and trying other Snowdonia cheeses. I'll for sure be reminiscing about this (and dark chocolate digestive McVities) when I leave. Not sure if it's harder to find a Canadian stockist or to bring back a 2kg wheel.

20 November 2017

atomic

You know what's even better than braised greens? Braised turnips...with some greens. But the turnips are the star.
a touch of mustards seeds is my addition, good call

I don't know whats a good comparison to the texture of braised turnips except for daikon oden, which is practically the same thing. It's not to the point of custard-y as it gradually collapse in your mouth as you bite down. Succulent maybe? It also doesn't take forever to soften, maybe half an hour (I wasn't paying much attention), unlike swede ugh. Too bad turnips aren't as cheap as carrots or parsnips, although it is still a cheap ingredient. Hopefully co-op has a good price on these, and if radishes are still on sale that'd make a good addition. Turnips are the best looking tho:

the color hnnng

...

Also went against my better judgement and made a coconut milk based curry. I'm not the biggest fan of coconut milk based curries. I do like the ingredient in desserts though.

recipe via thekitcn

Side note: I still suck at making easy over eggs. Can't find the balance of heating the pan/oil hot enough to get crisp egg whites vs not overcooking the yolk. I usually get the former right and not the latter, but today turned out the opposite. Sigh more practice is needed, good thing Iceland eggs are insanely cheap (unfortunately chicken welfare is a lower priority than cost atm).

I was very much regretting my decision while cooking this dish as the curry tasted supremely coconut-y. But once cooked through and cooled a bit, the taste mellowed out and became more balanced with the other flavours. Yesterday's portion reminds me of khao soi, not because that they're actually similar, but rather its the only coconut milk based dish that I eat periodically. It got even better after sitting overnight in the fridge, today's portion is actually to my liking. Next time I would increase the spiciness by switching to my dried thai pepper and sourness by adding the juice from the half a lemon that I reserved (deviated from the recipe of adding juice and zest, I just threw in a scored lemon half. Got the idea from Eastern Eye's lentil soup where there was lemon slices cooked in the soup. I can taste a hint of bitterness from the pith which I like). I do prefer the thick texture resulting from using split chickpeas cook very well done when served with rice.

...

Later edit: this would make the perfect shakshuka sauce! I've put off making it forever since peppers are so damn expensive in Toronto. The only problem is that I think a crispy fried egg goes the best with this sauce because of the textural contrast. So maybe I'm just complicating things and should just fry some eggs and top it.

19 November 2017

tap

After writing reports totalling 13500 words from my first four courses, I have a pretty decent methodology down. Also thanks to ENV221/222 and APS1299 (I already forgot my prof's name but will always remember his feedback on academic writing as the single most useful comment I've ever received on an assignment) as well as that one parking garage assessment report that Josh and I had to write in 3 days for improving my writing. One more thanks for the librarian that taught me to use Zotero to manage my references. It was not fun when it took me more time to prepare references than writing the report body for ESP BC.

The key for me is to have a lot of inactive time: at the beginning for ideas to incubate, and at the end to have a fresh perspective each time I edit. This translates to starting the assignment as soon as possible, which makes for a very hectic lecture week.

The process generally goes:
  1. Find one or a few comprehensive literature reviews and read them to provides a good overview of what I don't yet know but also so I can steal their references.
  2. Make an outline of the report 
  3. Find peer reviewed papers according to the outline. I really have no idea if I'm devoting enough or too much time to lit review, but I generally dedicate 2 days to search & read the abstracts or go through about 5 pages of catalogue search results. Staying organized at this stage will be tremendously helpful, I'll rename the papers that I download with the primary author's last name and a couple of keywords. It really is the worst to be checking through 20 - 30 PDFs to find this one thing you want to cite. 
  4. Start writing the first draft concurrently with reading the papers on specific topics. I do start with writing the intro even though I've heard advice to not start with it. Intro formula = general statement > link to topic > state scope > list of sections to follow. While writing the body, I can usually start with what I've learned from the lit review papers and then read the papers on the specific topic once I start writing about the topic. This is again to avoid searching through my downloads. I'll color code papers that I've read and written about vs ones that I didn't end up using. 
  5. Since my first draft is always over the word limit, I go back and minimize the amount of direct quoting since a) its not contributing much and b) they're generally wordy. I do keep snippets of when they describe their results so I don't accidentally distort their findings. 
  6. Take a break for a day, then go back and reorganize paragraphs / sentences so the structure is logical and there is some semblance of flow. I've largely gotten over my bad habit of being being stuck at writing the first draft because I want it to be better than it needs to be (my editing skills >> writing skills). But that leaves a really really shitty first draft, which makes this the mot important task. Its not uncommon for lots of deletions and rewriting here. I recall one time where only ~20% of my original draft remained :'D 
  7. Subsequent edits are moreso for style, clarity in sentence structure, consistent use of terminology, and grammar if I manage to concentrate enough to pick out my mistakes. 
  8. Last edit I'll have the computer read my report out loud with hopes that a different form of communication (versus visually reading) will catch any remaining mistakes. 
  9. Convert to PDF and breath a sigh of relief. 

18 November 2017

steam

Dal cooking continues with Budget Byte's Dal Nirvana:


I took a lot of liberties with her recipe:

  • Red instead of brown lentils: I did debate lugging back another 2kg bag of brown lentils, but figured using the red I have will reduce cooking time.
  • Soaked the lentils for about an hour with boiling water instead of cooking it in another pot so the whole dish will only require one pot.
  • Upped amounts of garlic and cumin, and added some garam masala. Next time I'll use even more of these.
  • Swapped a chopped fresh (actually demi-dried since it's been in my fridge for so long) chile for cayenne pepper
  • Stirred some yogurt instead of evaporated milk to avoid buying another ingredient. I am tempted to buy cheap tea bags every time I go grocery shopping so I can make milk tea, but to my surprise tea bags (PG tips or Yorkshire) aren't super cheap. Maybe I'll make a trip to Lidl one day.
Overall tasty for a very bare bone recipe (surprised at no onions). I'm cooking the remaining portions of the rest of the day to see if very, very long cooking time improves the taste. If it works for Dishroom, it'll probably work for this too. Compared to the previous lentil with a lot of warming spices, this one is about the contrast between the acidic tomato and creamy dairy.

17 November 2017

shimmer

The rare couple of days when the sun sets when class ends:


16 November 2017

things done changed

This is my favourite song from the album, hands down. It's been my commute music for weeks now.


Loving these lines (via Epik High Translations):
Though nothing lasts forever, I’ll wave to you across the river of time.
Some things don’t change.
Though nothing lasts forever, I’ll wait, across the wall of time.
If you call my name again, I’ll come back.
If you think of me once in a while, I’ll come back.
If you shed tears for me, I’ll come back.
If you leave a place in your heart for me, I’ll come back.
Back to you.