La Casa Gelato: Ice Cream Is No Longer Just For Kids

April 29, 2012 § 1 Comment

As the weather warms up, I often get a hankering for ice cream and the best place to satisfy that desire is at La Casa Gelato located on 1033 Venables, just off Clark Street in Vancouver. With 218 flavours to choose from, try not to get dizzy from walking in circles and trying the different samples. After deciding which beverage to order in a coffee shop, this is probably the second most difficult food ordering decision that you will have to make.

I was surprised to see adult offerings like their Guinness sorbetto that tastes quite strongly of the actual beer and has a surprising clean after taste. They also had a Jack Daniels whiskey flavour which I did not dare to try.

Casa Gelato’s creative flavours are endless like their pear blue cheese with gorgonzola which was heavy on the cheese with a sharp after taste and a sample was enough to make my taste buds happy. My favourite ice cream flavour is coffee and I got their most popular one, espresso with chocolate flakes. The espresso was strong and the ice cream was not too sweet or milky, exactly the way that I like it. I always love going to La Casa Gelato and will pop in throughout the summer.


Fried Leftover Vegetable Linguine Pasta

April 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

One of my favourite ways to eat pasta is to fry up the leftovers. The noodles become hard and slightly crunchy and the pasta sauce is sweet with pronounced savoury notes. When I make pasta, I sauté whichever vegetables that I have lying around in the fridge and add an organic pasta sauce to it. The next day when the noodles have hardened and the sauce has been absorbed, I take the pasta out of the fridge and fry it up for a snack or dinner. If you are in the mood for something spicy, throw on some hot sauce.

Cooking time 10 minutes

1 tbsp + 1 tbsp (15 ml+ 15 ml) olive oil
1/2 onion diced
2 cloves garlic crushed
2 stalks of celery chopped
2 stalks of kale leaves roughly chopped
1 small pepper chopped
pasta sauce
parmesan (optional)
hot sauce (optional)

1. To make the original pasta dish, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil and sauté the onions. When lightly brown, add the garlic, stir and add the veggies and cook until soft but still firm. Add the pasta sauce and toss with cooked linguine.

2. To make the fried leftover pasta, heat a medium-sized saucepan on medium heat and add 1 tbsp of olive oil. Add the leftover pasta and stir occasionally. When it’s ready, sprinkle with salt and freshly grated pepper. Turn off the heat and serve.

Onion Ringed Burger

April 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

One of my first high school jobs was working at Dairy Queen where I was the queen of making blizzards. Back then vegetarianism was uncommon and on my breaks I made a burger where I substituted the meat patty for french fries and onion rings and dressed it like a regular burger. For quite some time my co-workers stared at me like I was crazy until one day the manager tried one for herself and admitted that she could not even tell that the meat was missing.

Well fortunately, meatless alternatives have come a long away and you can buy many different faux animal foods including numerous meatless burger patties. The onion ringed burger is still one of my favourites as the crunchy exterior with the sweet onion middle is a delicious compliment to any burger.

Cooking time 15 minutes
Serves 1

Alexia natural onion rings
Meatless burger patty
burger bun

1. Cook the onions as directed on the package.
2. Cook the veggie burger patty and dress the burger as you like it. When the onion rings are ready, place a few on the patty.

Nobu’s Vegetarian Cookbook

April 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

Acclaimed chef and restauranteur, Nobu Matsuhisa’s latest cookbook is strictly vegetarian and brings the word elegance to vegetarian cooking. Filled with stunning photos, his cookbook is full of innovative Japanese recipes for fresh salads,vegetables, mushrooms, tofu, yuba (soybean product), noodles, desserts and beverages. A master in combining unseeming ingredients, try one of his unusual recipes such as the Napa Cabbage Sorbet and the Tomato Compote Coated with Chocolate. His sake beverages are equally as impressive and my favourites are the Cucumber Sake Mojito and the Bitter Squash Screwdriver.

I wanted to try a recipe and since I love mushrooms, I decided to make Nobu’s Spicy Mushroom Soup. The ingredients are easy to find and are available at ethnic and health food stores. If you are looking for an adventure, go to the Japanese grocery store Fujiya to pick up your ingredients.

Spicy Mushroom Soup
Serves 4

Kombu Dashi Stock
1 1/2 oz (40 grams) dried kombu kelp
1 qt (1L) water

14oz (400 grams) mushrooms in total (button, cremini, fresh morels, oyster, shitake, truffle, maitake, shimeji, and matsutake)
3 1/2 cups (800 ml) kombu dashi stock
2 tsp (10 ml) soy sauce
2 tsp (10 ml) mirin
1 tsp (5 ml) salt
2 tbsp (30 ml) chopped scallion
1 tbsp (15 ml) Chinese chili paste with garlic (or douban jiang, Shichuan soy bean paste)

1. To make the Kombu Dashi stock, combine the kombu kelp and water in a pot and heat until the water temperature reaches 140F (60 C). Cook for about 50 minutes and strain the kelp.
2. Cut the hard parts off the bottom of the mushrooms, and cut or tear into bite-size pieces. For the truffle, chop into small pieces.
3.Place the Kombu Dashi and all the mushrooms in a pot and bring to a simmer. Contine to simmer until the mushrooms are cooked.
4. Season with soy sauce, mirin and salt. Arrange the mushrooms and soup in serving bowls, top with the chopped scallion, and drizzle with the chill garlic sauce.

Vancouver Celebrates Earth Day

April 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

April 22 is Earth day and take part in one of the many activities happening around the city.

Celebrate Earth Day with the Vancouver Farmers Market and Slow Food Vancouver on Saturday April 21, 2012 from 10 – 2pm at the Winter Market at Nat Bailey Stadium on 30th and Ontario Street. They will have earth talks, demos, food tasting and a scavenger hunt.

Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale

Another fun activity happening this weekend is the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale. During April 21-29, 2012, people from around world including Canada, US, India, Italy, Croatia, England, and South Africa, will hold vegan bake sales and use the proceeds for their cause. The Vancouver event is hosted by Liberation BC and takes place on Sunday April 22, 2012 at 3G Restaurant on 3424 Cambie Street from 3-7 pm. To find other locations around the world visit the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale site.

Gourmet Vegetarian Pizza Bagel

April 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

Instead of making the same old boring pizza bagels, spice them up by adding creative and gourmet toppings like this one. They make an easy and quick warm lunch plus you can easily tailor the toppings for each person.

Makes 1 pizza bagel
Cooking time 15 minutes

sesame bagel sliced in half
pasta sauce
veggie pepperoni
green olives sliced
shredded mozzarella or vegan cheese

1. Place the bagel on a baking tray and spread the sauce.
2. Arrange the veggie pepperoni and olives and sprinkle with cheese.
3. Bake in the oven for a few minutes and then broil on low until the cheese has melted. This prevents the bagel from getting soggy in the middle.

Masala Macaroni with Peas

April 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

When my kids are hungry and I’m too busy to cook, I tell them to find something to eat themselves. My daughter will dig in the cupboards and if she’s lucky, grab a box of mac and cheese. I usually nibble on the left overs which I splash with hot sauce. One day when I was feeling creative, I decided to try an Indian twist and added masala and peas. It turned out delicious and it’s a fun way to spice up an ordinary box of macaroni.

Cooking time 15 minutes
Serves 2

1 box of organic macaroni
1/2 cup (125 ml) peas
1/2 tsp (2 ml) masala
sprinkle of salt
dash of hot sauce (optional)

1. Prepare the macaroni according to the package. A couple of minutes before the pasta is ready, throw in the peas and cook for a minute or two. Drain pasta and peas.
2. Heat the same pot on medium-low heat and add the vegan or regular butter. When the butter sizzles, add the masala and stir. Add the milk and when warm add the cheese and mix with a fork to break the lumps.
3. Add the pasta and peas, stir and spoon into a bowl. Add hot sauce if you want an extra kick.

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