banana muffins baking in the oven has got to be one of my favourite smells in the world. as the maillard reaction goes down and the bananas begin to caramelize, an intoxicating, golden aroma fills the room and brings me right back to early memories of the first thing I ever baked. this version (based off a recipe from reid’s mom) is extra fibrous and filled with lots of good stuff for when you’ve been eating too much take-out and need a gut cleansing. perfect for an on-the-go breakfast, or as a snack, any time of day. we sometimes sub the bananas with pumpkin or chestnut purée to mix it up a bit. serve with a knob of butter for extra unctuousness.
even though I grew up cbc (canadian born chinese), cooking cantonese always seemed so technical and intimidating, until I realized that it can actually be pretty simple.
sure, some dishes can have a lot of components, but simple dishes are really simple. and that’s how my mom likes her food. hot and simple.
once I figured out that all it takes is a hot wok, I mean screaming hot, and a little flick of the wrist (practice makes perfect with uncooked rice in a pan), I knew how to make food that she’d truly enjoy.
one upside of it being the dead of winter is that it’s also citrus season!!! from pomelos to clementines, blood oranges to navel, we’ve got some beautiful, tropical imports that remind us that there’s still colour in the world. this slaw uses one of my favourite citrus fruits - pomelo! it’s a sweeter, milder grapefruit that’s less bitter. combine that with easily available winter veg and a dressing that’s shelf stable for a week, and you’ve got an easy, healthy option for lunch or dinner. for added protein, toss in some cooked chicken.
corn tortillas are the best! everyone should make corn tortillas! they could not be easier to make and there’s absolutely no question that they taste and hold together better compared to the store-bought refrigerated ones. all you need is masa harina, a.k.a. corn flour, a staple ingredient from latin america. add some water and bam! you’ve got corn tortillas. we use maseca which can be found at most major grocery stores near the crispy, crunchy, old del paso tex-mex shells. those are a guilty pleasure and have a different purpose of their own, but about that another time…if you’ve got a mexican store in your area, maseca is 100% sold there. consume with any of your favourite taco fillings or as a vessel for your breakfast!
the other day, we found some frozen beef cheek at our fav new neighbourhood butcher (shout out to fore quarter!) and decided to experiment with it. beef cheeks are amazingly tender and delicious when cooked down, but feel free to use beef chuck or any other braisable cut with this recipe too!
we were craving something braised and something asian, and that of course led to…korean beef tacos!!! spicy and savory, tangy and sweet, these are sure to satisfy any taco craving you may have (reid gets them A LOT). if you don’t have a pressure cooker, braise for about 2 hours at 250 F in a dutch oven or oven proof pot. serve with fresh homemade corn tortillas, kimchi, lightly pickled cucumbers, and cilantro.
we first had rice soup for breakfast in chiang mai, thailand with a lady named we. before starting the day cooking with her, she fed us this beautifully simple and nourishing bowl of rice soup that kept us going for the rest of the afternoon. it made me wonder why I didn’t always have rice soup for breakfast since it’s super easy to make, eat, and heat up again for more than one occasion. toss a few eggs in for some added protein and you’re set for the day. her version had ground pork and chilis, but I’ll recreate that another time.
the next time you go to a pho restaurant, look for this hidden gem on the menu. it’s probably past #20 of all the potential meat combos you can get in your pho. compared to pho, bo kho has a deeper umami taste, due to the tomatoes and fish sauce in the broth. it’s almost like the vietnamese version of beef bourguignon, but this time served on rice noodles! you can either cook this low and slow, sans agression (thanks ludo lefebvre for the best way to describe gentle cooking), or the process can be expedited with a pressure cooker or instant pot.
my fav butter chicken will always be from bombay mahal on st. laurent in montreal. that might be the case until I go to india, but I heard the dish is rather north american, just like general tso’s. still great in its own way, just a different category all on its own.
bombay mahal was the best place to go when you didn’t want to cook or just got in from a long travel day. be sure to try their delicious baingan bharta too - no where else I’ve been does it better! anyway, my excitement put me off track and I’m really here to tell you that this butter chicken is pretty damn good.
the amount of butter might be alarming, but I’ve already it cut down from a lot of other recipes. butter is in the name for a reason! and it’s so luscious and creamy because of it. serve with basmati rice and naan.
粥／congee/ juk/ zhou is amazing soul food that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. it’s a bit like chicken noodle soup for asia: whenever you’re feeling sick or sad it gives your body and soul a pick me up. it’s also incredibly easy to make and it’s a great way to use up leftover rice and/or bones! we like to buy the ducks hanging in the windows of Chinese markets and restaurants and throw all the leftover bones into a pot with leftover rice to make it. try to reserve some of the duck meat to toss in the pot at the very end before serving.
to me, winter means chili. imagine: a warm bowl of chili after shoveling the snow in -15 degree (celsius) weather outside. a warm bowl of chili after pulling off your oh-so stiff ski boots and wiggling your toes for the first time in hours. a warm bowl of chili on a lazy couch-potato-afternoon catching up on all the whose line is it anyway? episodes (yes, they are making new ones. no, it’s no longer drew. and yes, it’s still wayne, colin, and ryan +1!!)
this version of laksa is one of my favourite noodle soups in the world. my day is instantly better with a bowl of this laksa in front of my face. it’s like a hug for your soul, and belly! traditionally made with fish stock, some versions can be quite fishy. I tried to find a balance of just the right amount of fishiness (from the shrimp paste) with just enough spice, tang, and richness. once you have this laksa, you won’t be able to live without it. I definitely wouldn’t want to. even if we are just 2 people, I usually make the full batch for 4 since you can freeze the leftover broth for a quick meal!
I have to pay homage to the thai-viet restaurant I worked at in montreal for this one, restaurant hà. this salmon is so damn flavourful, you’ll be shocked at how incredibly simple it is to make. the main ingredient is store bought tom yum paste (yes, I actually cheat sometimes), which you can usually find in the sauce or canned goods section of an asian market, or in the international aisle of a larger grocery chain. the salmon is even a bit forgiving when overcooked (but it won’t be!) as the decadent and luscious coconut sauce pairs beautifully coated on the fish. it’s a stellar contrast between vibrant and delicate flavours all in one bite!
I didn’t grow up eating chicken adobo, but it feels like I’ve been eating it forever. there’s just nothing like a bowl of tangy, soy-saucy chicken on a bed of white rice. adobo is traditionally made with vinegar and soy sauce, but the added coconut milk in this version gives it a rich, southeast asian twist. with just a handful of ingredients, you’ll be able to whip this one up in no time - all you really need is to buy the chicken. feel free to sub the chicken with fried eggplant or tofu for a vegetarian version. must serve with white rice.
growing up in canada, I never understood why my friends were disgusted by tofu. but then I realized that their version of tofu was often flavourless, dry, and firm. the tofu I grew up with was always a massive flavour bomb - this silky, soft vessel used for absorbing velvety, meaty sauce, turning any bowl of plain white rice, into the ultimate comfort food. reid was a tofu convert when he first ate this, and I think you will be too. the chili bean paste (doubanjiang) and the black bean paste can be found at your local chinese supermarket in the sauce aisle.
your mind will be blown the first time you make fresh curry paste. pounding each ingredient in the mortar and pestle and smelling the wafting perfumes that are released is absolutely intoxicating. even if you don’t have a mortar and pestle, the satisfaction of making fresh curry paste from your food processor, blender, whatever it may be, is well worth the effort. your curry will turn out more fragrant, flavourful, and luscious, plus, you can freeze portions of it for a quick weeknight meal! this does require some ingredient hunting, but most of it can be found at your local asian market. if you’re okay with store bought paste, skip to part 2 of the recipe for instructions. serve with steamed white rice, or try our coconut rice for some extra richness.
for not being a celiac myself, it says a lot when I say that these are my favourite chocolate chip cookies ever. they’re crispy on the outside, chewy and melt-in-your-mouth on the inside, and perfect with a glass of milk. store them in an airtight container at room temp for a couple days and they’ll go like hot cakes. I always microwave them for 20 seconds to get them back to their freshly-baked-out-of-the-oven state. my microwave sucks though, so adjust your seconds accordingly or you’ll have a melty mess. still a melty delicious mess, but not what you want. this recipe makes 36 cookies, but we always divide the dough into 3rds and freeze 2 portions in ziplock bags. whenever we’re craving some fresh baked cookies, we just defrost a bag, ball up the dough and pop them in the oven! efficiency for the win!
This is one of my go-to recipes. As long as I've got frozen shrimp on hand and some arborio rice in the pantry, I can whip this up in under 25 minutes. And the best part about it is that the rice cooks in 7 MINUTES! Pressure cooking all the way! If you happen to keep fennel in your fridge feel free to replace the celery with it. You can also add more seafood like mussels or calamari.
When you ask a local in Thailand what they cook at home, the answer is often some version of Pad Ka Prao. This minced pork stir fry is made with 'holy basil' or ka prao, a peppery cousin of the commonly found sweet basil in North America, but since holy basil is difficult to find, feel free to substitute either Thai or Italian basil -- just don't let a Thai chef catch you calling it "Pad Ka Prao". We love this dish because it's super easy and packed full of flavour. Serve with steamed rice, a crispy fried egg with a yolk that oozes over and some steamed veg, and you've got dinner in under 30 minutes. We make our version farang spicy but if you can handle your chiles like a true Thai you can toss in a few more.
Massaman curry is one of my personal favourites. It's a go-to recipe when I host private dinners for larger groups, or have a free Sunday to spend cooking. It is rich, complex, and packed with SO much flavour, and I get giddy when I smell the paste frying. The aroma that fills the room is INCREDIBLE. After leaving it for a while to bathe and bubble in its own deliciousness, you're left with a magical, golden curry with beautifully tender chicken or beef. Damn, I'm mouthwatering again. This recipe definitely takes time 'sans aggression', but trust me, it is well worth it.
We’re always looking for new ways to integrate vegetarian meals into our diets, and as much as we love tofu we’re eager to explore some more imaginative alternate proteins. Lately, that has meant pulse-patties, from black bean burgers to falafels. We love falafels for transforming relatively-boring-but-packed-with-nutrients chickpeas into crisp-on-the-outside-moist-on-the-inside flavour bombs that add substance to rice bowls and keep us full for hours after a meal. They’re traditionally spiced with cumin, coriander, mint and cilantro, but we wondered if they could be done using the same blend of aromatics as our favourite Thai sausage, Sai Ua. The answer is a resounding yes. Full of lemongrass, turmeric, chilies, kaffir lime leaves and galangal, these Thai inspired falafels have a bold flavour that keeps you going back for more. For strict vegetarians, we use powdered dry mushrooms for umami, but if you’re more lenient we recommend a healthy dose of fish sauce.