Caprese Salad

Caprese salad is my guilty pleasure. PerhapsĀ it’s because I really don’t know what else I can do with all the fresh basil we’ve been growing in our garden other than making pasta sauce but this dish is pretty solid. I’ve been making it so much that I’ve been told to cut back on it because eating that much cheese on a daily basis can’t be good for you.

All you really need to make this dish is 3 main ingredients – some form of mozzarella cheese (we used Burrata), fresh basil, and tomatoes.

Usually whenever we make this dish, we use good quality extra virgin olive oil and a generous amount of freshly ground salt and pepper to season. However, since the quality of these tomatoes and cheese was so good, we were able to cut back on the seasoning quite significantly (which is better for our health!). I could eat this up for DAYS. I’m not typically a salad person but I could have this on the regular that’s for sure šŸ™‚

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

Ingredients

  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Fresh Basil
  • Fresh Burrata Cheese (Bocconcini or Fior Di Latte will work too)
  • Freshly Ground Salt and Pepper
  • Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Instructions

  1. Cut your cherry tomatoes in halves or quarters (personal preference).
  2. You can roughly cut up your cheese to get that rough textured look and sprinkle it all over your plate for that spontaneous look and feel.
  3. Finely chop up some basil or rip them up into tiny pieces. Sprinkle generously across your salad.
  4. Drizzle with generous amount of extra virgin olive oil and season with freshly ground salt and pepper.
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Agedashi Tofu Recipe

This weekend marks Team J’s 7th anniversary. In order to celebrate, I decided to make a Japanese dinner since J loves all things Japanese. I will be featuring all the dishes that I made on the blog as part of the #JapanWeek series.

I’ve been prepping for this meal all week – looking up various recipes and blogs to get inspired as to what to make. I finally came up with the final menu and I got super excited because I knew he would love the dishes that I will be making. One of the dishes I stumbled across was this Agedashi Tofu recipeĀ and I knew it would be theĀ perfect appetizer dish because it was light and simple.

Agedashi Tofu

I adapted this recipe from JustOneCookbook and slightly altered the sauce recipe from a Japanese cookbook that we owned. Although I’ve never made this dish before, it turned out really well!

For this Agedashi Tofu recipe, see below:

Agedashi Tofu Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 of a medium-firm tofu block
  • 1/3 cup potato starch
    Sauce
  • 1 1/3 cup dashi stock
  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin
    Toppings
  • Bonito flakes
  • Grated ginger
  • Grated daikon
  • Thinly sliced green onions

Instructions

  1. First, prepare the sauce. Add light soy sauce, mirin, and dashi stock into a stock pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, bring the heat down to low to keep warm until ready to use.
  2. Cut the medium-firm tofu into small blocks and dry them all in a paper towel to remove as much moisture as possible.
  3. Meanwhile, prep the vegetable oil in a small sauce pot or deep fryer until oil is 350F.
  4. Once the oil has reached 350F, lightly dredge the tofu in potato starch and deep fry the tofu until they turn golden brown. When done, remove them from the oil and place them on a wire rack lined with paper towel to remove excess oil.
  5. Place fried tofu into a shallow dish and pour the hot sauce on the side of the bowl (not directly on top of the tofu). Garnish with grated ginger, grated daikon, thinly sliced green onions, and bonito flakes. Serve immediately.
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Nikuman (Chinese Steamed Pork Bun)

I love steamed buns, especially the ones you get at Chinese dim sum restaurants. I always found the idea of making them a bit intimidating because I don’t know what goes into making Chinese steamed buns.. I’ve only made western bread that’s baked in the oven such as the French baguette I made earlier this year.

I decided to challenge myself and step outside my comfort zone to make my first Chinese steamed bao! Having seen a YouTube video on how to make this, I gathered the courage for my first attempt.

Nikuman

The entire process was definitely challenging and stressful… I actually failed at making the dough the first two times having followed several recipes I found online. Both times my dough was too dry and I ended up over kneading it trying to get the consistency that I wanted. On my third and final attempt, I decided to ignore the recipes I found online and went with my own flow, having reduced the amount of flour that was asked by at least 32 g. I only added extra flour into my dough mixture as needed.

DSC_1715

The end result? Super fluffy steamed buns that were soft and flavourful. These were definitely time consuming to make but it was worth the effort in my opinion! Definitely do the majority of the prep work the night before to minimize the actual cooking time.

For a step by step process of how I made these Chinese Steamed Pork Buns, read on!

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Vietnamese Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce

I love vietnamese spring rolls – they’re super easy to make, highly customizable, and healthy as well! This is usually my go to dish whenever I’m low on time and just want to quickly throw something together that I know will keep me full throughout the day.

Spring Rolls

I have a tendency to overfill my spring rolls to the point where my spring roll looks like a mini burrito -_- so I had to really train myself to portion out my filling just enough so that the spring roll looks presentable.

spring roll collage

Assembling it can be a little tricky because the rice paper gets a bit sticky once it starts drying out. It’s also extremely delicate so there were a few times my sharp carrots actually pierced through the rice paper skin as I was wrapping it, creating rips šŸ™

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Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken)

The bf had his usual craving for Japanese food this past weekend and in order to cook up a dish that minimizes the need for us to leave the houseĀ to purchase the necessary ingredients, we decided to make Karaage, commonly known as Japanese fried chicken.

karaage

The first time I had good Karaage was in Tokyo, Japan and it was kinda by accident as well. We were supposed to go to the TsukijiĀ fish market right when it opened to get good sushi for breakfast but unfortunately due to Golden Week, the market was closed. Hungry, tired, and extremely disappointed, we stumbled across this 24 hour noodle restaurant where I ordered Udon with Karaage.

Though we were nowhere close to replicating the same taste and texture that we experienced while we were in Japan, I say we made a pretty good effort!

First, we cut the 4 boneless chicken thighs (with skin) into small pieces and marinated it for an hour in the fridge. We would’ve marinated it a bit longer (overnight preferably) but since this dish was a last minute decision and I was getting pretty hungry, we settled for only an hour.

Marinade

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Caesar’s Salad – Recipe from Jacob’s Steakhouse

We love Jacob’s Steakhouse table side Caesar’s Salad that they make from scratch. Not only can the entire process be considered a great performance as you watch them aerate the extra virgin olive oil by pouring it really high from the bowl, but it is quite the unique experience to see them make the food in front of you so that you know what you’re eating is made fresh.

Caesar's Salad

We’d love to eat it all the time but going to Jacob’s Steakhouse every time for it gets really expen$ive so we wanted to see if we could possibly recreate it at home for ourselves. Luckily (depends on how you look at it), we found a youtube tutorialĀ by one of their staff members onĀ how they make their infamous table side Caesar’s salad dressing. I say “depending on how you look at it” because of course no famous restaurant will give away all their trade secrets. No proportions were given in this video in terms of how much of each ingredient you should add. We had to go through a bunch of trial and error to get it down and though it’s not an exact replica, we’d like to say it’s pretty close!

Here’s what we did:

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Grilled Shrimp Salad

As part of the Valentine’s Day dinner full course meal, I was presented with a nice grilled shrimp salad appetizer.

Grilled Shrimp Salad

The shrimp was deveined and seasoned with salt and pepper. It was then grilled over a cast iron skillet to get that smokey flavour. The salad consisted of some frisee, radicchio, and green leaf lettuce. With some thinly sliced julienne carrots, it really helped shape the colorful salad. A truly simple dish šŸ™‚

Miso Soup Recipe

Every time I go to a Japanese restaurant, one of dishes that I always order to start my meal is Miso soup. Not wanting to wait until my next sushi meal until I can have Miso soup again, we decided to make our own at home. It’s actually quite simple and once you have the dashi stock down, it’s as simple as adding the miso paste!

Miso Soup Continue reading

Takoyaki Recipe

2 years ago, we went to Japan for 18 days with a 3 day stopover in Osaka where takoyaki was popularized. Throughout Dontombori street, we saw numerous takoyaki vendors selling freshly made takoyaki on demand and they were absolutely delicious! What were we to do but buy a takoyaki maker when we got back to Canada so we can make our own? Takoyaki

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