here and there

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Bruschetta Soup

This soup has become a favourite in our house, so easy to make and is very impressive, not to mention this soup also tastes great 

These little cast iron mini pots were a thrift find and work perfectly for individual servings! 

Yes, Parmesan cheese is my hubby's favourite garnish!

Ingredients for Bruschetta soup   

  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of water
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Stale or toasted bread
  • Grated mozzarella Cheese
  • Parmesian Cheese
  • fresh Basil

Banh Xeo, Vietnamese Crispy Pancakes with Shrimp.

With the challenge of doing different meatless dishes during the Lent, this has been most interesting not to mention the unexpected learning. 

A clip on Instagram showed Banh Xeo, a Vietnamese Street food prepared by a chef in London with pork and shrimp filling. The preparation is very much like that of the Dutch pancake Pannenkoeken where the batter of the pancake is poured onto the hot pan and then the filling is added on top.  Some of the recipes for BanH Xeo do add the filling first much like a Spanish omelette, Tortilla and then the batter over the filling to cook.  

This pancake batter is a little thicker, thus cooked longer covered with a lid so that the bottom is crispy and the middle is cooked. 

Turmeric gives this pancake it's golden brown color. 

There are four steps to the recipes and easy to do if everything is set out before beginning to make the pancakes

Step 1
Make the batter

1 1/4 c Banh Xeo mix*
2T cornflour
1-2 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp sugar

1 can Coconut milk
1 1/4 c cold water
* used rice flour 

Mix the dry together
add liquid to wet ingredients, whisk
Let sit overnight or for an hour

Make the Nuoc Cham Sauce for dipping

  • 1/4 c Fish Sauce
  • 1/4 c Lime juice and the rind
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1 T sugar
  • hot chilli flakes
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1/2 c shredded carrot
This is a delicious dipping sauce that is used for spring rolls and lettuce wraps.  

Prepare the vegetables for the pancakes

An assortment of vegetables; Cucumbers, Carrots, Asian Pears, Green Onion, Bell Peppers, Bean Sprouts, fresh herbs, like Cilantro, Mint, Basil.  And a plate of whole lettuce leaves to roll the pancake and veggies in a lettuce wraps. 

Make the pancakes

Whisk the batter before adding the chopped green onions to the mixture
Pour batter on oiled hot pan, spread batter quickly over the pan. 

Sprinkle sautéed shrimp, caramelized onion and garlic over the pancake, cover and let cook until crispy brown bottom and the middle is cooked.  Vegetables can also be added to one side of the pancake at this point.

Flip pancake in half when golden brown in color!

Break off small pieces of the pancake added to a lettuce leaf along with herbs and the veggies, roll up and dip in the Nuoc Cham or dipping sauce.  Messy but so delicious!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Meatless dishes for Great Lent 2017

The start of Lent always brings memories of being a kid and growing up in a Catholic home that observed lent and the fasting that went with it.  The small barrel of herring that was brought into the house by my Father and then the opening of the barrel to check the herring.  My Mom would then pickle the herring with tons of fresh lemons and onions.  The recipe my Mom had copied from the local radio station and I have found a Pickled Herring recipe that is close to what she had used, although she had layered more lemon slices in each jar. I do remember that great care was taken in washing the herring before pickling and removing the milt which looked like a white balloon.  

With Lent came meals of pyrohy, herring, sardines and fish (White Fish and Pike), all of which I did not eat but would enjoy a plate of french fries or scrambled eggs.  Sardine sandwiches and tea were the norm after Station of the Cross on Friday Evenings.  

This time of preparation for Easter was not seen as a hardship but rather as a time of refections and a feeling of satisfaction that you were able to change the pace in your normal life.  This year, the church bulletin has indicated fish days for Monday, Wednesday and Friday.   I decided to pick up the challenge and prepare Meatless and sometimes dairy less meals for these fish days. 

It has been most interesting for me as not being a fan of Pryohy and after checking that the suppliers of fish being mainly from China even the Highlander brand, I have been researching dishes that I have come across on Instagram.  

Here is a list of dishes I have prepared and blogged about!  I will be added the different dishes as Lent progresses.  You can still find Pryrohy, Cabbage rolls on my site.

A blogger, Suburban Grandma, who I follow from the states has also compiled Twenty Five Meatless dishes for the Great Lent

Asian Noodles

Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls

Bruschetta Soup

Breakfast Pizza

Smoked Salmon Sushi 

Chirashi Sushi 

Garlicky Shrimp Onigirazo

Okonomiyaki, Japanese Pizza

Banh Xeo Vietnamese Crispy Pancake

Friday, March 10, 2017

Asian Noodles

It has been most interesting planning lenten dishes and looking for recipes that are not only meatless but dairy less. 

This Asian noodle recipe can be the base for many variation in seafood, noodles, vegetables and dressings.   

Noodle salad always looks great and is delicious!  The important thing is getting the right balance between heat, bitterness, salt and sugar in the dressing.  

  • 1 T Peanut Butter
  • 2 T sesame paste
  • 2 T soya sauce
  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • grated ginger
  • minced garlic
  • 1 tsp garlic chili sauce

For me the dressing lacked acidity and sugar

  • Increase the amount of peanut butter to 2 T and don't use the sesame paste, it just mudded the taste, instead drizzle sesame seed oil over the salad before serving
  • Add lime juice to taste
  • I did add 1 T sake

Julienned slices of cucumber and green onion along with grated carrot was added to the noodles, tossed in the adjusted dressing.  Other vegetables that could be added, pea pods, avocado, broccoli, cabbage etc.  

Garnish with sesame seeds, chopped cilantro, and smoked salmon 

The recipe I followed was by Smitten Kitchen as I had the ingredients, the blogger does talk about the noodles and the difference in taste.  

The beautiful bowl does come from Japan and was gift from a Japanese friend who visits her family regularly. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls

 Fresh Spring Rolls have never been my favorite in a Vietnamese restaurant, packed with rice vermicelli, a few shrimp and tasteless!  However, you will find Spring Rolls that you make at home can be very tasty as you add your favourite vegetables and seafood.  This is also a perfect Lenten dish.

The rolls use rice paper wrappers which are dipped into water before rolling up. These wrappers are easily found in Superstore or any Asian Market. 

It does take some practice to master handling the rice paper.  I would disregard any of the directions about warm water and timing as you still have a glutinous mess of rice paper.  I have found that the best way to make firmly wrapped rolls is to first have all your ingredient ready before starting.

The temperature of the water does not seem to matter. Using a round pan, dip the wrapper into the water only to wet the wrapper and turn over quickly so the other side gets wet and take it out when wrapper is still stiff.

Place your seafood in the middle and then layer your filling, 

Bring the bottom of wrapper up over the filling, then both sides of the wrapping and then roll up to top of the wrapper.  By doing this you can see the seafood through the transparent wrapper.  If making the rolls ahead of time, I found that you did need to spray the plate with oil so that the rolls doesn't stick to the dish and rip. 


  • Garlicky Shrimp
  • Alaskan Pollack
  • Carrots julienned
  • Cucumber julienned
  • Red pepper julienned
  • Scallions, sliced thinly
  • Rice vermicelli, cooked
  • cabbage, shredded
  • avocado
  • bean sprouts
  • Fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley, mint
Dipping Sauces such as Hoisin Sauce, Peanut Sauce and Sriracha are set out for dipping the rolls in!  Lettuce can be added to the fresh roll, in fact wrapping the fresh veggies in the lettuce can help prevent the vegetable ripping the wrapper. I like to use the Romaine lettuce leaves as another wrapper and roll the fresh roll in the lettuce before eating. 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Chirashi Sushi to celebrate Doll Festival or Hinamatsuri in Japan

March 3 is the Doll Festival or Hinamatsuri in Japan.  In other word's "Girl's Day".  What a wonderful tradition to wish and pray for the happiness of your daughter.  To celebrate, a special display of dolls or Hina dolls is set up and of course as in any culture, there is special food. 

Chirashi Sushi garnished with seafood and in this case tiny dolls. The seasoning mix and the pink coloured seasoned codfish, Sakura denbu could not be found so I used crab meat for the pink color.

Prepare sushi rice 

1 1/2 c sushi rice
2 c water

Wash the rice until the water runs clear. This does take a few rinses.
Add rice and water to pot, bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 12 minutes covered.  Remove from heat, let stand for another 10 minutes, without opening the lid.

1 T rice vinegar
1 T sugar

Add rice to a large plate and spread out,  sprinkle rice vinegar mixture over top and mix

Mix half of the rice with the crab meat. I used a can of crab for this.  

Some of the recipes had added 1 -2 T of chopped beets to get the pink coloring in the sushi rice.  Chopped cucumber was added to color the rice green.

These cakes can be decorated with shrimp, caviar and shredded nori. 

Although the sushi was packed with veggies and seafood, this did not show up in the layers. Pushing the layers to the edge of the mould might help.

Use a mould to shape these cakes.

Layer the crab and sushi rice mixture
Next a layer of nori cut to fit the mould
Wild Alaskan Flavored Pollack
Drizzle of Horseradish Flavored Mayo
Layer of the plain sushi rice
Slices of thinly sliced cucumber
Layer of Kinshi tamale or shredded egg crepe garnish 
Other vegetables can be added, diagonally sliced pea pods, avocado and shredded carrots! 

Recipe for the Kinshi tamale or shredded egg crepe 

3 eggs
1 T Sake
1 tsp cornstarch
sugar can be added
salt and pepper

Mix the cornstarch with sake first
Beat eggs until mixed well
Add cornstarch mixture, whisk until mixed with the seasonings

Heat cast iron over medium heat
Oil pan well, pour about 1/3 of mixture, tilting pan until pan is covered with the egg.  watch closely to not burn, take off heat when bottom has solidified. Lift crepe off pan and reheat pan again

Roll the thin crepes and cut into thin julienned strips for the garnish. 

I had saved a small amount to make a cape for the dolls which doesn't show up that clearly on the sushi, I would use a thin slice of cucumber or carrot next time.  
The hair and eyes were quickly and poorly made out of nori as my son was going out the door and I could have spent more time here!