I tasted this dish for the first time in Watusi, a cool cocktail lounge on Ossington Street. I was fascinated by the name, as I had no idea what umeboshi was. When I tasted the dish all I knew was that umeboshi was delicious!
When I got home that night a quick Google search revealed that umeboshi are a Japanese pickled plum, commonly used to flavor or accompany Rice. The next time I was in T. & T. Supermarket (my favorite place for shopping Asian foods) I had a look in the Japanese section and found that they in fact carried umeboshi. They are a small, bright red plum (actually closer to an apricot) and they are sold either whole, in a plastic container, or in a tube as paste. I chose the whole ones since they looked prettier. They have a sort of sour and salty taste. Chopped up and lightly sautéed in butter with the shrimps they create a unique flavor that really enhances the seafood. I’ve done this same preparation with scallops as well and it’s delicious.
Linsey suggested that we marry the shrimps with a delicately seasoned rice, since that’s the traditional Japanese way of using the umeboshi. This can be served as an appetizer, a tapas item or a main course. I personally like to serve these shrimp in the shell, since the peeling of them involves a lot of finger licking! However if you’re serving this to more decorous guests you may want to peel the shrimps first, as we’ve done here (or buy the “zipper back” ones that have been cut and veined before freezing). Just be sure not to overcook the shrimp; sauté them until they just turn pink and the flesh firms up. Any longer and they become chewy and lose their flavor.
I concocted this recipe in a moment of desperation. I was putting together a dinner for a close friend who mentioned at the last minute that his guest for the evening was completely vegan and allergic to wheat and dairy! I’d come up with a delightful menu for the evening, but I was lacking a desert. While shopping I had picked up some berries, but I definitely wanted some chocolate in the desert (after all, what’s dessert without chocolate). Unfortunately everything I could think of that involved chocolate also included dairy or wheat. Looking through my cupboard I noticed some cans of coconut milk and my always-ready supply of dark cocoa. In a mood of pure experimentation I dumped the coconut milk into a big bowl and started mixing in the cocoa. Much to my surprise they blended together easily and started to thicken up into a rich chocolate sauce. I added in just enough sugar to sweeten it and a dash or two of pure vanilla extract.
Wow, incredible chocolaty goodness! Somehow the coconut milk lent a deep rich note to the chocolate, and the sauce had a smooth consistency that just exploded in the mouth. Simply drizzled over the fresh berries, this was a great dessert!
This has got to be the simplest chocolate recipe I’ve ever seen. It takes exactly 5 minutes to open a can of coconut, throw in the cocoa and a bit of sugar, blend it together with a whisk and add a dash of the flavoring of your choice. As I mentioned sometimes I use vanilla, sometimes some lemon or orange zest and a bit of juice, and if I’m feeling particularly decadent, a dash of dark rum. If you’re into a surprising and exotic taste sensation, try adding in some chili or poblano pepper to add some heat to your chocolate. For a detailed recipe, look at the Recipes Page.
Then I discovered that this stuff is versatile. I put the leftover sauce in the fridge and the next day found that it had thickened up into an unbelievable mousse, just waiting for a spoon or even a stray finger! If you happen to have some popsicle molds, pour in this mixture and then freeze it to make the most delectable fudge sickles you’ve ever tasted. If you warm it ever so slightly in the microwave its the perfect chocolate drizzle or dipping sauce for anything you can think to put in it. When I feel like making a particularly pretty presentation I pick up those cute little angel cakes that they sell in the grocery store. I sort of paint the chocolate over the top of the cake, pile on whatever fruits I have on hand and then drizzle on a bit more chocolate, secure in the knowledge that one can never have too much Chocolate Delight!
Further experimentation has led to the finding that the best possible way to consume this stuff is with a bowl of fresh strawberries, naked in bed with a good friend!
Our local Ontario corn is now fully in season, so this seemed like a very appropriate recipe. This is a great way to utilize some leftover corn on the cob from last nights BBQ or dinner party.
I first tasted this delightful and unexpected salad at Mildred’s Temple Kitchen, a very cool restaurant right here in Liberty Village. I was intrigued by the name, Popcorn Salad, and then delighted by this surprising combination of three types of corn which give a unique crunch and texture. Also, the use of a brown butter dressing lends a rich, nutty flavor to this salad. So the next night I set about learning how to brown butter to make the dressing, and re-creating the salad for my dinner guests. It was a hit, so I thought I’d share it here with you.
Basically it’s a simple green salad, using mixed greens or whatever you have on hand, liberally adorned with BBQ corn kernels, popcorn and Corn Pops. Yes, Kellog’s Corn Pops, the breakfast cereal! You can also get crunchy roasted corn kernels as well to toss in for some extra texture and flavor.
Brown butter is a classic French sauce simply created by cooking butter until it lightly browns. This has the dual effect of eliminating the water from the butter, thus concentrating the flavor, as well as imparting a rich, nutty flavor. It’s traditionally used on its own as a sauce for fish, chicken, or vegetables. In this case I decided to use the browned butter as a base for a vinaigrette to dress our salad. The brown butter blended with sherry vinegar, Dijon mustard, a bit of olive oil and a hint of garlic makes a fabulous salad dressing!
Perhaps you’d like to know a little bit about me (or perhaps not in which case skip ahead). I grew up in a foodie family, Mom studied at Le Cordon Bleu school in London, England, and we traveled extensively, always planning our trips from restaurant to restaurant. I learned to love food of all types, from French haute cuisine to a good street vendor hotdog. Our family travels also led me to discover photography which I chose to pursue as a profession. Of course one of my favorite subjects to photograph is food, which I’ve been doing for over 30 years.
I also love to cook (it’s my second favorite way of making love), and I seem to be very good at it, judging from the responses I get.
And so now I’ve decided to combine my passions and share them with you. When I cook I rarely use recipes, preferring to combine flavors in my head, imagining how they will work together and then just going with it. Of course this means I can rarely create the same dish twice. So I’ve decided to start writing down my meanderings through the world of flavors, photographing the results and sharing both with you.
For those of you interested in the food itself, I’ll have recipes that you can download, print out and give them a try yourself. For those interested in the photography I’ll be sharing some behind-the-scenes info, photos and occasionally video.
I’ll also be telling you about anything that I run across that tastes really good… Neat restaurants, ingredients, stores, whatever crosses my path that I think you’ll enjoy!