Homemade rhubarb strawberry jam

It has been a while since I last updated as I have lately been much more caught up with things in the other side of my life: scientific research. I have not stopped cooking though, just few less experiments recently, lol. A couple of weeks ago, the rhubarb plants in our garden were getting so huge that husband harvested a good chunk of them and with strawberries stocked, I decided to make a rhubarb strawberry jam.

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Ingredients:
4 cups of fresh rhubarb stocks, chopped into small chunks
2 cups of cleaned strawberries (you can adjust the ratio depending on what you have at hand or your preference)
1 tbsp of lemon juice
1 – 3 cups of sugar (depending on how sweet you like your jam, I don’t like it too sweet, so I had even gone for 1/2 a cup)
2 packets of Gelatin (or Pectin whichever you can find, tune the amount to your liking)

In a large pot, throw in the chunks of rhubarb stock first. In medium high heat, cook for about 8 minute, until it turns mushy. Add the strawberries and cook for 2 minutes. To break down the mixture, use a handheld mixer and submerge into the mixture for about 1 minute or until everything presents a smooth blended consistency. Add the lemon juice and stir to mix well. Add the gelatin or pectin and be sure to mix very well so as to avoid creating lumps later on due to uneven distribution of thickening agent. Cook for another 5 minutes. Add all the sugar and mix well. Turn off the heat and can the jam immediately. Make sure you use cans and lids that have been sterilized properly – for example, submerge them in boiled water in a deep pot and continue to heat for 20 min or so. Let the jam sit in the cans in fridge for at least a day before serving.

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The jam should be stored in the fridge for longer shelf life, it will probably be very good for about 4-6 weeks. If using more sugar or acidic substance, ie lemon juice, it can be enjoyed longer and vice versa.

The jam is SOOOOOO good on toasts, or mixed in with plain yogurt, and it tastes so refreshing and cooling during the hot summer days!

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Honey Maple Almond Butter

If we piece all the information together, husband has an addiction to nut butter, I recently got a new model of food processor with higher power, the almond butter has been ridiculously expensive – the conclusion: I decide to make my own almond butter or nut butter from now on, lol.

Ingredients:
1.5 lbs of organic raw almonds (just how much I had at hand)
1/2 tbsp of honey
1/2 tbsp of maple syrup
1 tbsp of olive oil, optional
salt and pepper

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In a food processor (mine has about 720 watt in power) with its medal S-shaped blade on, combine the almonds, honey and maple syrup and add salt and pepper to taste. Turn the food processor on and let go for about 30-35 min or until reach desired consistency. Add olive oil occasionally, especially towards the end, to help the consistency of the texture. Open up every couple minutes and use a spatula to move the mixture that got stuck on the wall down to the blade. Feel free to use more olive oil, honey or maple syrup to your liking depending on the sweetness and the texture you prefer. Easy as that!

To change up the flavor, try adding cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins, chocolate, or I am thinking of putting in some cayenne, red chili, or jalapeño next time to experiment a bit.

Tips: if you roast the almonds beforehand for a while and let out the nutty oil somewhat, it will shorten the time needed to in the food processor or a lower-power food processor will do since it does not need to work as hard.

Husband gave two thumbs up after trying and has been all over this jar of goodness! 🙂

Eating action at Miami Beach

When talking about Miami food, one inevitably thinks about Cuban food, but I tend to try all kinds of food, so there will be an international flare in this post. During our stay in Miami, we primarily stayed in Miami Beach about one block away from the beach and here is what we think of the food scene in Miami Beach, the good, the bad and all else.

Non-Cuban food:

1. Mexican: Alma Mexciana, relatively cheap and good tacos, really enjoyed their pineapple horchata!

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2. Spanish: Tapas y Tintos, relatively low to medium price range, overall mediocre food

We had their stuffed calamari “Calamares rellenos” and “Plato del Marinero” as happy hour snacks. Both dishes were just ok, nothing great.

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3. French: A La Folie Cafe, relatively cheap, very good coffee, right off the busiest part of Espanola Way with great background music choice

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I had a really good crepe. But I have to admit that I am biased, because there was confit duck leg on top of the crepe that is wrapping inside a lot of sautéed mushrooms melted in cheese. Everything tastes better with duck leg and mushrooms. Lol.

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4. Breakfast: Aroma Espresso Bar, the lattes we had there were pretty good, seems like a nice place to chill for a lazy morning.

Cuban:
Havana 1957, the one on Espanola Way, medium price range, overall good food, great ambience

Husband had their “Havana 1957 Specialty”: A Family Traditional Roasted Chicken in Our Delicious Cuban Gravy
Served With White Rice, Black Beans, Salad and Sweet Plantains, which was very good. The chicken was tender, moist, well seasoned, quite flavorful. The dish came with a big salad as well.

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I had a pulled pork sandwich. The portion was very generous, which I could not finish even with some help from Husband. but the meat was a little dry and under seasoned. And under the giant sandwich, there buried a half-inch deep small fries, which I barely touched.

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Nights in Miami were warm and humid. So drinks were mandatory. We enjoyed our sangrias as well as cans of pineapple-flavored Jupina soda.

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Places we didn’t really like:
Usually, I tend not to talk about places I don’t like. But for places that receive overall positive or raving reviews on rating sites to be rather disappointing, I feel the need to point out the possibility that they might not be as good as they claim.

1. Doraku Sushi, medium to expensive price range, bad quality of food considering we are right by the beach (I would say ok if we were somewhere inland). There was too much mayo, chili sauce or jalapeño pieces being abusively put on sushi rolls that we could not quite taste the fish at all. Since the cold dish was disappointing, we ordered some yakisoba and fried rice and both were just OK at the best. The yakisoba was slathered with soy sauce and a bit too salty. And you know you sort of made a wrong restaurant choice when you see odd items such as fried rice on a Japanese menu and the fluffy intro to the chef/owner’s “zen/art” of food at the back of the menu. People all dressed up fancy trying to put out high class vibe and seemingly enjoying shitty food is something I really cannot tolerate and we got out as soon as we could. Heck, we were there during their happy hour to take advantage of the price break even.

2. Serendipity III, ok, I went in knowing it would be a tourist trap because of the movie and all that. I also went in knowing that other than their trademarked Frozen Hot Chocolate, there would be absolutely nothing else worth ordering. And thinking how hard it is to screw up with a drip coffee, we ordered a coffee along with the Froze Hot Chocolate. The coffee was absolute the worst either Husband or I have ever had in our lifetime, instant coffee would be 100x better, at least given enough sugar and stirring patience, you can eliminate the bitterness and the sandiness. And there comes the Frozen Hot Chocolate, basically cold hot chocolate with cream and chocolate shavings on top – I miss my $14 already. And yes, it was OUTRAGEOUSLY priced given by the terrible quality and the ultra-low difficulty to prepare the food!

3. Hiro’s Sushi Express, to be fair, the food was ok given the low price, especially if you order hot dishes. But the way they prepare the raw fish that goes into sushi dishes were unforgiveable – every freaking chunk of raw fish was pre sliced and sitting out with no wrappers over them to ensure the freshness intact or the more basic, HYGIENE (and I weep for the fish that died just to receive such mistreatments) – we didn’t look further for bad clues.

Alright, enough of the negativity.

Even though it already drove me insane just staying in this beach town for about 3 days doing nothing but to lay by the big body of water, it was relaxing to not worry about anything every once a while. We did enjoy staring at all the big b**bs (maybe fake, but who cares) and any other skin exposure that is considered sexy around the beach area, lol. Thanks for reading!

Breakfasts made easy!

Every morning, it is a battle between snoozing 10 more minutes and getting up preparing some breakfast. I would like a hot bowl of wontons or a few links of perfectly cooked breakfast sausages, although the bed is calling and I just do not want to wake up yet…. But, if you have a few long-term fridge residents or categorical items you constantly buy, breakfasts can be done in a couple minutes and still be delicious!

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First of all, you need some carbohydrates, and I always have some bread to make toasts with. Throw a few slices into a toaster while brushing my teeth or something and spread some almond butter or hazelnut butter or any kind of nut butter that screams delicious to you.

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Second of all, you need some seasonal additions. I constantly buy fruits that are in season, especially various kinds of berries, grapes, melons, cherries, etc.

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Next, you need some protein. Either a quick scrambled egg or a few slices of high quality salami (or pancetta, prosciutto) all can do the trick.

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Last but not least, you need a drink. A shot of home made espresso, a glass of fresh juice, or a cup of soy milk, whatever works.

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And here we go, a delicious plate of breakfast food that will go a long way. 🙂

Quebec city eat-out 2

In last post, I talked about a few family-style restaurants that I sampled during my stay in Quebec city. Since the schedule of my trip starts out in the early morning almost everyday of the week, I went on to find some cute coffee shops or local pastries for quick bites before a day started.

And here are a handful of places I stumbled upon.

1. Cafe-boulangerie Paillard

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This is a local pastry where wonderful things emerge together, lol. They have a lot of pastry items, good coffee, as well as awesome gelato ice cream! Their drip coffee does not have that typical smokey, bitter taste to it, very smooth instead. Their latte is also superb. As a scientist addicted to caffeine, I will have a dose whenever I get a chance. So, pretty much every sit-down restaurant or coffee shop I went to, I got a coffee. To be fair, I have yet come across a bad coffee in Quebec city (mostly in Old town), so you will have a pretty decent chance of getting a great coffee anywhere in the old town in Quebec city. I do not like sweets very much so I tend to order things like croissants more often. In Paillard, the croissant was very good. But I did go out of my way to order some macarons, and man, aren’t they delicious?!! It was light, fluffy, and not too sweet. Some of them had a citrusy flavor which was a wonderful offset. They go great with coffee.

2. Picardie

This place is on the other side of the fortification surrounded by a lot of modern bars and restaurants. I had a very good mochachino. But the ambiance was fantastic. You know you are in for a treat when great selections of coffee, salami, cheese, gelato, pastry all are right there in front of your face begging you to try them out. It would be ideal if I had the chance to have a quick breakfast or a light afternoon tea here.

3. Le Fudgerie

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This is a cute little place in old town and what drew my attention was the combo of those hanging sausages and display of chocolates by the window. I was like, hmmm, this is a weird combo and walked in. The sausages turn out to be filled with chocolate fudge, aha! I sampled some of their toffees, which were fantastic and I wish I had a cup of espresso at hand.

4. (I cannot remember the name, but there is a black and red sign outside says “Baguette et Chocolat” near pub St. Patrick in old town)

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Great croissant and coffee, what more needs to be said? 🙂 The decor was very open and contemporary. A great place to enjoy some newspaper reading and breakfast. They have very big illy coffee sign everywhere in the shop in case you cannot find it. Lol.

I will be ending my Quebec city eat-out trilogy with my fine dining experience next time. Thanks for checking in.