Tofu Stir-Fry (Vegetarian)

What is there not to love about stir-fry? It is fast, delicious, and you can make do with the ingredients you already have in your fridge and pantry.

This is the first time I made vegetarian stir-fry, with tofu replacing meat as the protein. I must say, it was even better than I had expected - I didn't really notice the lack of chicken or beef in this dish. Hubby didn't m
ind as well - he was too busy gobbling up the food to even talk!

What you need:

  • 1 block firm tofu (14 oz), drained
  • cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. apple juice
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 8 ounces broccoli, cut into florets
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, washed and sliced
  • 1 can (15 oz) drained baby corn, cut in half
  • around 1/8 cup vegetable oil for frying

What to do:

Dry tofu on paper towels and cut in 1-inch cubes. Place in a bowl and put around 3 tbsp. cornstarch (or enough to coat tofu with it)
. Toss to distribute cornstarch and set aside.

Combine 2 tbsps cornstarch and salt in a small bowl. Stir in broth, soy sauce, apple juice, and sesame oil until smooth; set aside.

Heat wok over medium-high heat. Drizzle vegetable oil into wok. Ease tofu into hot oil; fry for about 10 minutes (2 1/2 minutes on each side) or until golden brown on all sides. Reduce heat to medium. Place tofu on
cooling rack to let the oil drip, then transfer to a large bowl.

Add broccoli, mushrooms and baby corn to the wok; stir-fry until mushrooms are tender. Cover and cook 4 minutes or until broccoli is crisp-tender. Stir broth mixture until smooth and add to wok. Cook, uncovered, until sauce boils and thickens. Return tofu to wok; stir gently to mix. Serve with hot ric

Tips, tricks, and tweaks:

1. Wash mushrooms thoroughly. Very important.
2. When frying tofu, do so in batches if needed
as the tofu slices might stick to each other in a crowded pan.
3. Be careful when easing the tofu in the hot oil - it splatters! A splatter screen would be very useful.
4. Cook time is always different for every stove. Keep an eye on your veggies so they wouldn't be limp or overcooked.
5. Use dry sherry if you don't feel like using app
le juice.


Restaurant Review: Nagoya Sushi

Eruption Roll

There's a reason why Nagoya Sushi is my favorite place - because it is just so good! From the moment you step in the restaurant, you will be greeted by the cozy ambience and warm faces. The decorations are beautiful, the sushi bar well lit and showcasing their fresh ingredients,and the itemais (sushi chefs) seem to be very experienced.


The waitress served us complimentary Harumaki (Japanese Spring Rolls). This was a very nice gesture, perhaps its because we ordered many special rolls, including a roll called "Five Types of Innovative Sushi" - a dish that would demonstrate the chef's artistic skills. It was beautiful, and the presentation alone was worth ordering. It was served on a long plate separated into five sections, each section featuring a different fish with a different style and arrangement. Each was unique, both in flavor and looks.

This dish pushed me out of my comfort zone, as i
t paired fish with an ingredient that you would never think to put together. For example, one of them featured Yellowfin Tuna with julienned red onions. Who would have thought? But it was delicious, and very unexpected.

Five Types of Innovative Sushi

We also ordered the Eruption Roll, a warm sushi which had conch, cucumber, and a bed of spicy baked scallops on top. The server
warned us of its spiciness, but we like a little bit of heat. We expected an immediate tongue-scorching sensation, rather it was a subtle heat that kicked in a couple of seconds after you swallow. It was a good roll, but not a roll you would want to start with as you want a clean palate to enjoy the rest of your meal.

I also had my favorite - the Volcano Roll. No visit to Nagoya would be complete without this. It had spicy tuna, asparagus,
hot sauce and tempura flakes. There is a hint of sweetness to it. But the best part is the tempura flakes - those crispy, crunchy accoutrements that make the texture of the sushi so different. It was just so good paired with the sauce that you would want to savor every morsel of it. In fact, it is so good that after finishing the rolls, I try to scrape the plate to get every last one. (Can I have an order of tempura flakes with this sauce to go, please?)

Volcano Roll, Dragon Roll, Salmon Sashimi

I also ordered the Dragon Roll, which had eel, cucumber, cream cheese, avocado, caviar, and eel sauce. The eel was so tender, in fact had I not known it, I wouldn't have thought that it was eel. And their sauce was so excellent and complements the sushi very well.

And of course, even though it is not the Japanese custom to eat the sashimi last, I had it at the end of my meal, as I want it to be the last taste in my mouth. We ordered Toro (tuna belly) and Salmon (but of course!). As is my usual experience with Nagoya, the sashimi was great, with the perfect marbling of fat and pleasant texture. I bit it ever so delicately and chewed it slowly, enjoying every last delicious moment (knowing that this signifies the end of my exquisite meal).


Nagoya is like a hidden jewel to us. A small, intimate place that once discovered has all these wonderful things waiting. Itadakimasu! (Let's eat!)

***Note: Sorry for the poor image quality - phone cam. :-(


Plush Gang Funnies

Little Monkey loves chocolates!


Baked Apples

Mother-in-law bought several apples this week, so we decided to make baked apples. She said her own mother used to make some, but this is my first time to try it.

Surprisingly, it turned out good. We used different kinds of apples (Red Delicious, Jonagold, Braeburn and Granny Smith) to find out which would taste best. Personally, I think all of them were good! They certainly taste better than they look after baking!

What you need:

  • 4 large baking apples
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 3/4 cup hot water

What to do:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Wash the apples. Using a paring knife or an apple corer, remove the cores of the apple but stopping half an inch from the bottom. Make the holes about 3/4 of an inch wide, and use a spoon to dig out the seeds.

Meanwhile, combine the sugar, cinnamon, pecans and raisins in a small bowl. Stuff the apples with this mixture, then place them in an 8x8 square baking pan. Divide the tablespoon of butter into 4 small pieces and top each apple with a piece of butter.

Add the very hot (boiling, if possible) water to th
e baking pan and bake for 30 - 40 minutes till the apples turn soft (not mushy). Remove from the oven and baste the apples with the pan drippings.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. If using a paring knife, start cutting from the stem area, then the core. Cut a circle to remove the middle part then use the spoon to dig out the seeds.
2. Double the dry mixture if you make a bigger hole in the apples.
3. Sprinkle some of the dry mixture on the apples before putting them in the oven. It would make the apples taste better!
4. If your pan drippings dried out, create your own by mixing hot water, red sugar and cinnamon. More basting liquid = yummier apples!
5. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream on the side.


Restaurant Review: Gosh! Asian Bistro and Sushi

Gosh is a local favorite in our town, however, their offerings did not really quite meet my expectations. Let's chalk it up to the itamae (sushi chef) having a bad day.

Hubby ordered pork dim sum, and true to the meaning of the name dim sum which is little heart, they were on the small side. It is supposed to be an appetizer though, so it did its job - to whet our appetites. It has a good flavor - it didn't "wow" us, but it wasn't bad either.

The sashimi plate has 3 kinds of fish on it -
white fish, tuna and salmon. It looked pretty - like roses on a bed of garnish. However, the white fish tasted very fishy. Maybe it was a bad catch, maybe it wasn't that fresh. But it wasn't pleasant. The rule is if you are eating raw food, make sure it is high quality.

The tuna (or maguro) was good, it was grainy and soft. It was very mild, though. The soy sauce made it perfect.

The salmon was the best, and I am being a bit biased here since salmon is my favorite fish. It had a nice marbling of fat, an
d a good aftertaste.

Sashimi usually comes in small thick squares. Gosh's sashimi was long albeit a bit thinner. The long shape was not bad, but it made it harder to eat and dip in the sauce since it was hanging off the chop sticks.

Their rolls have American names, which tends to be more trendy than traditional. Since none of the rolls in their menu appealed to
my senses, I decided to try a different one. It was called Crispy-Crunchy Roll. It has salmon, smelt roe, crabstick, asparagus, scallions, cream cheese, panko breadcrumbs with tonkatsu sauce and is deep fried. Typically, I like tonkatsu sauce, but the way it was put in the sushi made it taste a bit off. For me, it didn't quite blend well with the ingredients of the roll.

Their service was quite fast, we didn't have to wait a long time for our food, which is good (or is it?). They also served one dish at a time, like a good Japanese restaurant which lets you enjoy and savor every course before bringing on the next plate.

These are all my opinions, and it might make sense to some, but sound Greek to others. This was not the first time we ate at Gosh!, but I don't think we'll be in a hurry to come back. The price wasn't outrageous, but I was not quite sure I got my money's worth. They have a little bit of this and that, which is why they are a Bistro and not just a Sushi Bar. Over all, I would give Gosh a 2.5 out of 5 stars.


Vermicelli with Short Ribs

Cold weather makes me want to cook hot foods. Hot food = soup. So I scrounged the fridge and found the broth we made from the Oven-Roasted Lechon recipe. This soup is very easy to make, with simple ingredients, and the noodles will fill you up easily.

What you need:

  • 120 grams Vermicelli noodles (or more, if desired)
  • Rack of ribs (around 7 single sections)
  • 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 of a big onion, sliced
  • 1 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • Pork Broth (around 3 to 4 cups)
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • salt to taste

What to do:

Soak the vermicelli noodles in hot water to soften it prior to cooking. Over medium heat, saute the garlic and onion for around a minute. Add the ribs and cook until they turn light brown. Pour in the broth and peppercorns and bring to a boil. When boiling, turn down the heat and let it simmer for around 15 minutes. Add the soaked noodles and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings if needed. Serve hot!

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. If ribs in soup does not work for you, put pork loin slices instead.
2. Mushrooms and carrots would add some heartiness to the soup.
3. Cheese lovers - sprinkle some coarsely grated Mozzarella Cheese on top for extra thickness.


"Clean Out The Fridge" Sundae

This sundae goes well with the Clean Out The Fridge Omelet, as it was born out of the necessity to make room in the fridge. Surprisingly, it turned out pretty well (who could go wrong with chocolate?).

Since it has 3 scoops of ice cream, this Sundae is good for 2 people. Or one... depending on how dessert-hungry you are. :-)

What you need:

  • 3 scoops of vanilla ice cream
  • a spoonful of whipped cream
  • chocolate syrup
  • 1 banana, thinly sliced horizontally
  • 2 Oreos, crushed + 1 for topping
  • a handful of lightly salted walnuts, chopped

What to do:

Put some crushed Oreos on the bottom of the dish. Pour some syrup on the sides of the dish and let it run down. Add a scoop of ice cream, then put sliced bananas on the sides. Sprinkle with crushed Oreo again, and make another layer (syrup, scoop of ice cream, bananas, etc). After the third layer, just put a dollop of whipped cream, chopped nuts and toppings (more bananas or an Oreo cookie) on the top. Enjoy!

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. Basically, you are just layering so plan ahead. You can put the ingredients in any order that you want.
2. Toasted marshmallows would be a good addition to this decadent treat.
3. Use lightly salted nuts as it would balance the sweetness of the other ingredients.

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