Asparagus Bread Pudding

As you can probably tell by the infrequent posting, life has been a bit hectic lately and I’ve been having trouble finding the time to share my cooking adventures with you. What with a wedding to plan and grad school work ramping up, I haven’t been attempting many ambitious cooking projects at home. (Case in point: you should see my poor sourdough starter, which has been sadly sitting in the fridge unused for a couple of months now when I’m sure all he wants to do is come out and play. Hopefully, I won’t have to keep him pent up much longer.)

Of course, all of this doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking – it’s just the focus lately has been on simple, easy, super quick meals. After much internal debate, I’ve finally decided that I would write about these anyway and hope that one day, it’ll help someone (possibly even me, since I have the worst memory in the universe) whip out a quick dinner without running to the store. So you’ll start seeing posts about these improvised “recipes” soon – although I hesitate to even call them recipes since I’m never that careful with measuring things when I’m improvising.

But before I start busting out the improv (ha), I want to encourage all of you to try this awesome recipe from none other than Heidi at 101 Cookbooks, one of my all-time favorite recipe blogs. Take advantage of those gorgeous asparagus before they go completely out of season!

Of course, you can replace the asparagus and mushrooms with any other vegetables your heart/stomach desires that day. In fact, I’m day-dreaming about how mighty fine a bread pudding like this would be with some wilted leafy greens, capers, fresh tarragon, and maybe even some roasted fennel. Why, what a lucky coincidence – I have those exact veggies sitting in the fridge at home!

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Veggie Burger

So remember how I was wondering about wedding presents not so long ago? It turns out I must be really, really good at foreshadowing….because I have to talk about weddings again this time. This is, of course, my way of letting you know that Nathan and I are engaged!

Speaking of weddings, it was almost a year ago that my friends Brian and Michelle had theirs up in Banff. On top of the gorgeous mountains, beautiful wedding ceremony in this amazing castle, and yummy reception food (with sushi!), another thing I remember from that trip is this veggie burger recipe.

You see, Nathan and I got together with some friends and shared a vacation rental apartment up there. So while the boys were out on their bachelor’s party/hiking in the snow, I spent some quality time in the warm and cozy apartment with Food Network Canada. Did you know they have a bunch of Canadian-specific shows up there? Some of them are pretty good and definitely way better than that scary, creepy Sandra Lee. One in particular was by this chef Michael Smith and he was the one with this awesome recipe for veggie burgers, loaded with mushrooms, tofu, miso, and soy sauce. (To be honest, I think this should be called umami burger because that’s probably a way more accurate description.) He even showed how you can grow your own sprouts from various grains to serve with this burger – cool!

Anyway, yes, I’m one of those meat eaters who willingly eats veggie burgers because I like the taste, so imagine how excited I was to try this recipe. And this recipe really does not disappoint, although the first time I tried to make it, I made it way too mushy so I’ve now adjusted the recipe accordingly. Also, these burgers are a lot easier to pan-fry than to grill. But being the sucker that I am for grill marks and grilly flavors, I finally discovered that if you freeze the patties before you throw them on the grill, they tend to hold together a bit better. But still I say, grill at your own risk!

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I’ve been meaning to write this entry for a long time, but until now, I’ve avoided trying to figure out how to embed a video into a post. Apparently, it’s way easier than I thought, so now it seems silly I waited so long.

If you know me, you probably know that I absolutely love dumplings and have been known to spend hours wrapping them by myself without complaints. When I was growing up in Hong Kong, I was recruited to help wrap wontons every time we made them at home and I prided myself on being fast and efficient. Once I got good enough at wontons – which let’s face it, it’s not that hard because you just sort of bunch the wrapper all together around the meat – I wanted something a little more challenging. So I sat down and tried to figure out how to make pot stickers.

It took me a few tries but finally, I figured out how to shape pot stickers that looked like the kind you get at restaurants. I then started looking around for different fillings and of course, the possibilities there are endless. Some of my current favorites are a pork and super-gingery filling and a green curry chicken with thai basil filling. But finding a good all-vegetarian filling has always stumped me… until now.

Ming Tsai dubbed these the “Best Vegetarian Pot Stickers” and before you scoff like I did when I first read it, you really should give it a try. They definitely are the best vegetarian potstickers I’ve ever had.

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pasta for one

I lack discipline. I really do.

If you’ve ever gone food-shopping with me, this will be no surprise to you. Just last week alone, I made two impulse buys – a bucket of ‘ugly’ fresh shitake mushrooms at the farmer’s market (“it’s such a good deal!”) and a whole bunch of shiso leaves at the Japanese store (“but I must have them for the umeshiso rolls!”). It doesn’t sound like that much, you say? Well, did I tell you that we also subscribe to a weekly delivery of organic produce from Terra Firma Farms? This makes our fridge is a veritable garden, but one where we’re sometimes faced with the task of figuring out how to combine various ingredients that are all going to go bad soon. So… shiso, shitake, and my general laziness in trying to find something more ambitious to do with them resulted in a simple Japanese-style pasta dish.

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