Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Hallowe'en

Hapy hallowe'en everyone! We are getting into the spirit of Hallowe'en again, as usual, so here are some pictures of our costumes:

Me: Wonder woman

G: El árabe poderoso (The Mighty Arab)

Tiggs: Playboy Bunny

Also, check out our pumpkin. I had to give it a gangsta feel this year, in honour of Los Angeles. I'm also interested to know if the kids will say, "Look, that pumpkin has a grillz!"

Yesterday we went to Mexico to renew our visas. We were in our car in line for immigration for 2 hours!!! It's a good thing we still like each other! Anyway, there were a lot of people walking between the cars, selling all sorts of stuff. This is how G got his wrestler's mask! We bought it from a real Mexican wrestler. There were all kinds of stuff for sale: rugs, blankets, banjos, magazines, baskets, not to mention all the food. We bought a small bag of churros and a cup of steamed corn (which was awful). We spent all our money on these small things, and at one point I was searching the car up and down for some change so G could get a flan. It was interesting, Tiajuana reminded me a lot of Egypt. We got a little lost driving around but all in all it was a nice day. After we went through immigration and got back to the US, we went down to San Diego's Gas Light district, which was very quaint and nice. We had dinner in a pub and watched a bit of football. I almost wished we lived in San Diego since I have yet to find a real pub in Los Angeles, and San Diego seemed to be a more casual place. We will definetly be back there.

Finally, back on the topic of Hallowe'en, Tiggy is in yet another costume contest! Please go to stuffonmycat to vote for her!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Coconut Cream Pie

G is back, and so the kitchen is open for business again. I wanted to make him one of his favorite desserts, so I decided on Coconut cream pie. I used the recipe from "the Joy of Cooking", which is my personal bible of food. I've given up looking to recipes for pie crust, however, since after you've made so many of them, your hands just know what to do.

Coconut Cream Pie
(recipe adapted from The Joy of Cooking)
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cold butter
pinch salt
1 tb granulated sugar
about 1 1/2 tb water* (drop by drop)

1. Mix the dry ingredients together with a fork.
2. Cut the butter into small cubes with a sharp knife. Combine with the dry ingredients.
3. Using your fingertips or a pastry cutter, blend the butter into the flour mixture. Once there are no large clumps of butter left, rub the flour together for about 1 mintue. You will notice a slight almond colour.
4. Stir in the water a few drops at a time. It is important not to add too much water. I find it is best to use your hands through the entire process, even mixing in the water. You can squeeze the dough together to avoid over-mixing. Once a dough is formed, turn it out onto a flour surface and roll out to 1/4 inch thick. Place in a floured pie tin.
5. Poke the pie with a fork, and bake in a 375 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes, using pie weights or beans. Remove the weights for the final ten mintues.

Cream Filling:
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups milk
5 large egg yolks
3 tb butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp coconut extract
1 cup toasted, sweetened coconut
1 1/2 cups 35 % cream
2 tb superfine or powered sugar

1. Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium sized pot. Whisk together.
2. Slowly whisk in the milk.
3. Add the egg yolks and whisk well, until there are no yellow streaks.
4. Place the pot on medium heat and bring just to the simmer. Whisk the mixture well, as it thickens.
5. Remove from heat, and scape the sides down. Mix until smooth.
6. Return to the heat and whisk constantly for 1 minute.
7. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, vannila and coconut extract.
8. Stir in the toasted coconut.
9. Pour into baked pie shell, and chill.
10. Whip the cream and sugar together until stiff peaks are formed. Spoon cream onto chilled custard.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

What I miss about you

Dear Canada;
I know, it's been a while. I miss you too. We talk on the phone a lot, but it's just not the same... and it is too easy to forget about you down here in La La Land. Here's to remembering what I miss about you...

1. Tim Horton's.. I miss you everyday.
2. Pumping BEFORE paying... Oh Canada you are so trusting
3. The Seasons... bikinis in October will NEVER sit well with me.
4. The Fam... you know it.
5. The Metric system!!!! I miss you every day too!
6. Colourful money... it's not just for monopoly.
7. Proper spelling! It was meant to be colour, flavour, and lit!! Not Lighted!
8. Snow... Yes I miss winter (sort of).
9. World News! They think World News is: "An American in Paris..." "American Troops in Afganistan..." "American dignitaries in England..." "American Sanctions..."
10. President's Choice Products... there is no other.
11. Shakies on your popcorn at the movies! And huge movie theaters too.

What have I forgotton????

Change is good

There are going to be ssome changes here at "chefsarahjane". I think I need a new title to go with the new template. Also, Weekend Cat Blogging is now going to be taking place at TIGGY'S BLOG! Yes, Tiggy finally has her own blog. And MAN! She needs a lot of help with it. Sometimes she mews softly in my ear what she wants me to type. Otherwise, it just ends up looking like this:
decdhju bndjmhuden dsafsagoihgnm and so on. Something is definetly lost in the translation. Anyway, what that means is that I'm going to keep all the kitty stuff to Tiggy's blog. Also, I am eliminating my "other" blog (sweetsarahj), because I just don't have enough to say to fill them all- and the distinction between what is 'food' and what is 'my life' is a very thin and blurry line. So from now on, this page will be kitty-free, but you will be subjected to more of my personal life! You can't stop Professor Chaos! Mwahh-hah-hah-hah!

Reminder: WCB Schedule

October 21- Jelly from I Got 2 Shoes.
October 28- Linda from Kayak Soup.
November 4- Lali from Lali et Cie.
November 11- Skeezix at Skeezix the Cat
November 18- Amar at Catsynth.
November 25- Robyn and Sanjee at Hot(m)Bc
December 2 – D at The Hidden Paw
December 9 – Miz D and the Angry Cat at Belly timber
December 16- Kitchen Mage
December 23-back here at chefsarahjane
December 30- Lisa at Champaign Taste

Friday, October 13, 2006

WCB 71: Hallowe'en contest

Hi All! Tiggy and I have been very busy preparing her costume for Skeezix's and Hot(m)BC's Hallowe'en costume contests. We argued over what she would wear. After seeing Kismet in his Hugh Hefner Robe, she was dead set on being a Playboy Bunny. I'm sure some of you parents out there know how hard it is to argue with a determined teenager. Despite my protests, she did get the costume she wanted (how could I say no to that sweet little face?). I think she wanted the costume to try and win Kismet's affections. I told her that he is a grown Man Cat and probably already has a girlfriend, but it didn't stop her from crusing his blog all night. She even decided to start her own blog.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Pineapple, and a lesson.

Is it crazy of me to do this to my pineapple....

I guess old habits die hard. I worked for a catering company while I was in college, called "Gourmet Greens". It was located in the kitchen of a fine restaurant named "Zoom" in downtown Toronto. You may have heard of the Rubino Brothers, Michael and Guy. They are Toronto restauranteurs and currently own the restaurant Rain. They also star-in and produce the Food Network Canada show "Made to Order". Well, they were the owners of Zoom and Gourmet Greens. In addition to being minor celebrities, they are also known within the restaurant community for big egos and the sort of staff treatment that generally goes along with that.

I'm not trying to make any allegations here, because other than being generally rude to me, I wasn't mistreated by either of them. I worked in their catering business for 6-8 months and neither of them bothered to learn my name. This is the kind of employer they are. There was a definite "You are so lucky to be working for me" attitude. I have heard stories of cooks working 13+ hour days on salary wages and even sleeping in the kitchen after closing the restaurant because they had to be there at the crack of dawn the next day. This could be only gossip, but it is not far from things I personlly witnessed at other top restaurants. There is a mentality amoung some cooks that abuses of power like these are worth it just to learn from the chefs. I have worked for ego-driven chefs, and I believe that they will treat you like garbage only if you let them. You must assert yourself!

But I digress. While I was working at Gourmet Greens, we prepared breakfasts and lunches for Bay St. Executives. Sandwiches, salads, fruit platters and desserts. I thought I wasn't learning anything. I begged the restaurant chef, Lorenzo Loseto (currently of George), to move me up to the hot line. I know that he thought I couldn't handle it. I'm not sure he realized that prior to working there, I had 3 years experience on a hot line serving 200+ people per night. After many failed promises, I quit. I remember Lorenzo telling me "You think you haven't learned anything, but you'll look back and realize that what you have learned is invaluable. Every chef needs to know how to make these simple products." Later on I realize that he was right. I know how to make the best sandwiches and composite salads due to that job. I can make a simple arrangement of fruit look stunning. I can clean a pineapple to look like a winding path up the side of a mountain. Although I wish I could have had the opportunity to prove that I was a capable cook, I'm glad I worked there and also glad I got out of it when I did. I moved on to job on the line in a restaurant and lounge in Toronto's Entertainment district.

Friday, October 06, 2006

WCB 70

Hello to all the kitty bloggers! A great big thank you to D at The Hidden Paw for hosting this week's event. Go pay a visit and check out all the fluffy goodness and maybe drop her a link as well. She challenged us to post "kitty in a box" posts this week, and well, Tiggy is not really a "box cat". Or maybe she is still too much of a kitten to enjoy the simple pleasure of sitting in a comfortable box. She does investigate the new boxes around the house, but she is WAY more interested in playing inpaper bags:

WCB Schedule:
October 14- Rosa from Rosa's Yummy yums
October 21- Jelly from I Got 2 Shoes.
October 28- Linda from Kayak Soup.
November 4- Lali from Lali et Cie.
November 11- Skeezix at Skeezix the Cat
November 18- Amar at Catsynth.
November 25- House of (mostly) Black cats
December 2 – D at The Hidden Paw
December 9 – Miz D and the Angry Cat at Belly timber
December 16- Kitchen Mage
December 23-back here at chefsarahjane
December 30- up for grabs

Drop me a comment if you want to host!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Well, after a long absence G has returned. He came home from Korea yesterday afternoon. I was in the kitchen for hours on Sunday preparing some homecoming food for him- he always gets a grand meal whenever he has been away from home for too long. It is a tradition that started a few years ago, when it seemed he spent more time away from home than at home. His mom would always cook a few favorites when he was due back to the nest: Simmered Beef tongue, Yellow Rice, Leg of Lamb, or Chicken Briyani.

This time I decided to make two dishes for G that I know he loves. Both of these recipes came from Monsoon Restaurant in Toronto, On. where I worked in 2001. The Spicy Thai salad was one of the first things I ever prepared for G. I've haven't been the Thailand (yet), but according to others, this salad is very reminiscent of Thai street food. It's spicy, sweet and refreshing. The Monsoon Fried chicken is garlicky and salty- it is perfect in a sandwich or mixed up with noodles. G loves it all on it's own... in fact it is so good, that back in the restaurant the cooks always stole it from my fridge.. I actually had to hide it in order to have enough for service! It has been compared to crack cocaine for it's addictiveness.

Spicy Thai Salad

For the dressing:
measurements are flexible. Please taste and change to your palate.
1/2 cup sweet chilli sauce
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp minced ginger
2 tsp ground fresh lemongrass
1/4 cup lime juice
zest of three limes
1/4 tsp fish sauce

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.

For the salad:
1 cup mint leaves
1 cup cilantro leaves
2 cups julienned red and yellow peppers
1 cup bean sprouts
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 cup crunchy noodles*
1/4 cup dressing

1. Combine and serve immediately. Serves 2-4.

Monsoon Fried Chicken

ingredients & Method:

8 boneless chicken thighs
1/2 cup oyster sauce

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup garlic powder
2 tsp salt
1 tb white or black pepper
Vegetable oil for frying

1. Marinate the chicken in the oyster sauce for 10-30 minutes.
2. Mix together the flour, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
3. Using a pair of tongs, remove the chicken one piece at a time and drege well in the flour mixture. Allow to sit for at least 5 minutes before frying- this ensures a nice crust.
4. Heat the oil to 320 degrees. Be sure to use enough to submerge the chicken, about 3 inches.
5. Fry the chicken one or two pieces at a time, about 6 minutes each or until a thermometer inserted in the fleshiest part reads above 170 degrees.
6. Remove from the oil and drain on a cookie cooling rack, or a mesh rack until cool. Transfer to a paper towel.


These are the crunchy noodles that I like to use (when I can find them!):