Sunday, 20 February 2011

Recipe Round Up!

Greetings interwebs. I am completely high right now...ON LIFE!

I got up at 5:45am (!!!) and ran 14km (!!!) including Lions Gate Bridge north and southbound. When Nicola Street appeared once more I briefly thought I was going to die from exhaustion, but I made it home and collapsed on my floor. My face is still on the really-red side of normal more than three hours later, but on a more positive note, the satisfaction in a run well done will last much longer. In a brief lapse between Paul Stirfry visits (three days running now - oops), I'm making dinner tonight for me and my sister, so I thought I'd take a moment to get some of my recent recipes up for those who have asked...

Easy Peasy Vegan Marinade

I throw this on all manner of veggie / tofu combinations, and I've started making it in small batches so I have two or three meals' worth in the fridge to save time and grating effort. The measures here are for that amount, so size down as needed.

1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 tbsp fresh crushed garlic (2-3 cloves)
2 tbsp cold-pressed sesame oil
1-2 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce (Tamari brand is good)

... and if you're feeling a little nutty, a dollop of crunchy peanut butter.

If you're using this for tofu, I recommend combining cubed tofu with some marinade for around an hour before you cook it - and make sure the pan isn't too hot when you put it in, or you'll get an oil shower (I learned the hard way).

I'm going to try to add some heat to the sauce this week in an attempt to make my own version of Paul's addictive entrees.

After-Work Risotto

As previously mentioned, I'm putting in a fair few hours down the ol' mill these days. When I do get the urge to make my own dinner (admittedly not very often recently), I needed some new go-to recipes that are time-poor, flavour-rich, and don't come out of a box or jar. Thank you quick-and-dirty risotto (courtesy of the beeb's Good Food site, natch)! Bonus: it avoids the calorie-laden pitfalls of more time-consuming versions. Double bonus: gluten-free

200g arborio rice
800g hot vegetable stock (see note below)
50g frozen peas (or more if you really like peas)
50g freshly grated parmesan
the juice and zest of half a lemon

You can follow the instructions on the BBC site if you like, but I'm always a bit more fast and loose with risotto. The trick is to put some music on so good that you won't want to do anything except add stock, dance and stir the pot until all the stock is absorbed. I've reduced the veg stock by 50mL because the frozen peas are full of water, so they'll make it up without it getting watery. When all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is yielding nicely, take it off the heat for a minute or so before you add the lemon juice and 2/3rds of the parmesan (leave the other third and the zest to sprinkle on the finished dishes).

This serves two according to BBC, but I serve it with a salad so I have one serving left over for lunch the next day ;)

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Adventures in Yaletown: Paul Stirfry

I've been working a lot lately. Working a lot means not having a lot of time to plan, shop for, cook, and experiment with recipes, which in turn means relying on the plethora of restaurants in and around the office in Yaletown. Tough life, I know.
Apart from the obvious hit to the bank balance, eating out has become a small source of frustration for me. As well as avoiding meat, I'm trying to keep my wheat intake to a minimum. I won't commit to saying I have an allergy, but what is clear is that my body doesn't like wheat, responding with rashes on my arms and face that last for a couple of hours, stomach pain and headaches, and at the worst, shortness of breath. I never used to react this way, and I still forget sometimes (usually when I'm hungry and options are limited). I've been told that I should keep a little bit of wheat in my diet because the less I have, the more intolerant I'll become, and the more severe the reactions will get. So, it's not off the plate entirely, but suddenly I'm scouring menus for the wheat-and-meat-free options. As a colleague said at lunch a week or so ago, "I'll have the ..., hold the fun". There's only so much salad a girl can eat, you know?
Which is why I am delighted, thrilled even, to have paid my first visit to Paul Stirfry on Nelson between Seymour and Richards (borderline Yaletown, but I'll take it). A sort of takeaway / noodle bar / pho house as imagined by a caffeinated graphic designer, my first impression was that it was trying a bit hard... then I had lunch, and I understood - a place with food this good has to look the part.
The menu is chock full of cleverly named pan-asian plates, including a highly customisable Build Your Own suite of options. Items are clearly marked GF and V (very handy!). The Red Head (spicy veggie stirfry) caught my eye, and was in front of me (with tofu and quinoa) within five minutes. My five colleagues were served in similar fast, friendly fashion, and apart from a very generous serving of Pho broth, bowls were clean all around almost as quickly.
Similar in approach to Wagamama in the UK, the emphasis is on fresh, flavourful, and healthy ingredients. The open kitchen behind the order counter was full of happy, busy staff, and within the hour we were there, around 15 people came and went with eat-in and take-away options. Everything smelled, looked and tasted wonderful, and for the first time in at least a few weeks, I didn't have to substitute / enquire about the ingredients in my lunch. I had to stop myself going back for dinner... but I will be returning to try every possible combination - definitely my new favourite eatery!

One question ... who the hell is Paul?