Green Beans and Tempeh with XO Sauce

Green Beans and Tempeh in XO Sauce

This tempeh recipe is a riff on a dish that we love at our favourite Chinese restaurant here in Toronto. The beans in that case are mixed with a bit of ground pork, but here I replaced it with some tempeh.

Originating in Hong Kong, XO Sauce is a Chinese sauce made from dried seafood, including shrimp, scallops, and fish. The seafood is mixed with chili and garlic to create a somewhat chunky paste packed in oil. The ‘XO’ part of the name stands for ‘Extra Old,’ similar to labels for XO cognac. While there is no alcohol in XO sauce, it is marketed the same way as the French liquor. I find it has a rather plain flavour when used by itself and not at all spicy, but just a dash of salty soy sauce brings everything together in delicious, umami harmony.

Look for XO sauce (there are various brands) in Chinese grocery stores. As it is a purely Chinese ingredient, don’t expect to find it in Korean or Japanese supermarkets. Luckily for us, there are several Chinatowns in Toronto, and this was easily found next to all the other common sauces.

Green Beans and Tempeh in XO Sauce

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Our Parents’ Renovation: Before Bathroom

Our Parents' Renovation: Before BathroomOur Parents' Renovation: Before Bathroom Our Parents' Renovation: Before BathroomThis bathroom is about 20 years old, when our parents renovated their Edwardian triplex into a duplex. It was the one and only bathroom for our family until we moved to Saudi Arabia. Hence, the low counter (for three kids) and double sinks. The blue paint job is from 2004, when we finally moved back to Toronto and had everything repainted. Our contractor called our house the ‘clown house’ since most of the rooms were different colours: mine was grass green, Tomiko’s was hot pink, Karlos’ was aqua blue, our parents’ room was yellow, and the main living areas were coral-pink. Now that our parents are redoing the top floor, they want everything white white white.

The bathroom has windows on two walls and gets the morning sunshine, so our mom loves to fill it with plants in the winter. Our parents will replace the bathtub/shower by moving it towards the window, and then put custom shelving in the space between the bathtub/shower and the slanting wall. They will replace the side window that faces the house next door with frosted glass, so that the neighbours can’t look into the shower! The sink vanity will be replaced, also with two sinks, and the floor and bath and walls will be retiled with lovely marble. I can’t wait to see the final bathroom!

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Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Chocolate Chip Banana BreadChocolate Chip Banana Bread

This banana bread recipe is adapted from one in the Family Fun Cookbook that I received for my 12th birthday. In this case, I dialed down the sugar a bit and added the chocolate chips.

Every time I think of banana bread, I remember a certain incident at the kids’ camp where I worked for two summers during my undergrad years. I worked in the kitchen (of course), and there were about 10 of us kitchen staff to serve 400 campers and staff. In addition to serving three meals and one snack per day, we also took turns preparing the late-night staff snack. One such night it was my turn, along with the baker’s assistant, and I think we made chocolate fondue. But while we were by ourselves in the empty kitchen, we were sneaking tiny slices of a cake that a staff person had made. It was a chocolate chip banana cake frosted with cream cheese icing, and it was fantastic. So now every time I make banana bread, I think of that cake and wonder if this bread needs cream cheese frosting.

It doesn’t need it, of course, but the frosting certainly wouldn’t hurt. Regardless, a slice of this banana bread is great, toasted, for teatime, maybe spread with a bit of butter. It’s also great for breakfast on a weekend.

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Honey Mustard Green Beans

Honey Mustard Green Beans

I’ve been on a honey-mustard kick recently, after having read through David Lebovitz‘s newbook front to back, and having a German mother who insists that Loewensenf is the best mustard ever. I’ve tried it out on chicken, and now, green beans. The mustard mellows in flavour as you  cook it, so don’t shy away from the amount added.

Even though I’ve been vegetarian for well over 10 years, I was never a big vegetable lover as a kid. I would politely (and not-so-politely) decline to eat most of what my mom cooked up. I remember generally sticking with cooked cauliflower and raw cucumber. Then one day I went over to my friend’s house for dinner and her mom cooked green beans. She put some on my plate. I didn’t want to eat them, but you can really say ‘no’ to someone else’s mom. So I ate them. And they were delicious! I’m not sure what was in those green beans, but I slowly became an eater of vegetables and eventually became vegetarian.

These are not those green beans, but they are no less delicious.

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Toronto Eats: Doughnuts at Glory Hole

Glory Hole Doughnuts

Glory Hole is the first Toronto bakery (that we are aware of) that started serving gourmet doughnuts back in August 2012. The bakery is decorated Canadiana-style: there is an upside-down canoe suspended over the counter, which looks like a stacked woodpile. It seems like a more delicious take on the favourite Canadian coffee shop Tim Hortons. Ashley Jacot De Boinod’s doughnuts are hand cut from cake or yeast dough that has been proofed twice before being filled and/or glazed. Glory Hole offers a great variety, from doughnut holes and simple glazed plain ones to those with crazy toppings (e.g. Maple Bacon) or luscious fillings (e.g. London Fog).

Doughnuts are generally either cakey or yeasted, and I much prefer the yeasted ones. These take longer to prepare because the dough takes two proofs to rise, like bread dough. They are light and fluffy but still slightly chewy and made in several creative and delicious flavours, but I have yet to try Glory Hole‘s cake type.

On this occasion, Ryan and I shared a London Fog, which was filled with a creamy, earl grey tea-flavoured pastry cream and then topped with an earl grey glaze. I appreciated how pronounced the tea flavour was, since often tea-flavoured pastries don’t taste like much. I was also intrigued by the Toast and Butter, which was topped with a brown butter frosting and finished with sweet breadcrumbs and cinnamon, and the Tiramisu, which is one of my favourite desserts. Next time!

It is best to arrive at Glory Hole earlier rather than later in the day, since one Saturday I stopped by for a little pick-me-up and, much to my dismay, they had sold out and closed early!

Glory Hole has pre-order and custom-made doughnuts available, in addition to catering and supplying weddings. Move over, cupcakes and macarons, here’s a new (old) dessert star.

Glory Hole Doughnuts

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