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Soba Noodle Salad With Spring Herbs

May 11, 2011
Soba Noodle Salad With Spring Herbs by secret tea party
Soba Noodle Salad With Spring Herbs, a photo by secret tea party on Flickr.

Today is horrifyingly gloomy. Isn’t it May? Maybe I imagined it, but I was sure that Spring had already arrived. Lately, sunny days are far and few between. So far, this is all i have eaten, with a mug of green tea on the side of course.


1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped finely
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped finely
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped finely
3 scallions, sliced thinly
1 cup cucumber, diced quite small
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
8oz dry soba noodles
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
enough sesame seeds to garnish
Prep all herbs, cucumber and scallions so they will be ready when your noodles have finished cooking.
Boil water in a medium sized pot. Meanwhile, add vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, grapeseed oil, sugar and salt in a wide bowl. Stir to dissolve sugar.
When water is boiling, add noodles to the pot. Cook for 3 minutes. Drain into a colander and rinse well with cold water.
Add rinsed noodles to the bowl with the oil and vinegar mixture. Toss well to coat the strands of the noodles. Add herbs, cucumber, and scallions and mix well. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.


My Fattoush Salad

May 11, 2011
fattoush salad by secret tea party
fattoush salad, a photo by secret tea party on Flickr.

I recently ate at a delicious Lebanese restaurant here in vancouver called Nuba. It was fantastic and inspired me to start cooking Middle Eastern style food. This salad is a variation of the fattoush salad. Other ingredients you may want to add are cucumbers and tomatoes. Enjoy!


1 Large Toasted Pita, broken up into quarter sized pieces
1/2 head of green leaf lettuce, sliced into thin strips
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup mint leaves, finely chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced
8 kalamata olives, pitted and quarted
juice from half a lemon
2 tablespoons olive olive oil
2 teaspoons zatar
1 garlic clove
salt to taste
Put lettuce, parsley, mint, olives and onions in a wide bowl. Meanwhile, crush garlic with a large knife, chop finely, add a pinch of salt and smash into a paste with a large knife. Add lemon juice, olive oil, zatar and garlic with a pinch of salt in a small bowl and whisk together to emulsify. Pour dressing over salad leaves and toss with your hands to coat evenly. Add pieces of toasted pita and lightly toss. Serve!

So tasty! You might want to eat the whole thing by yourself! (I did).

Greens and Eggs

April 30, 2011
greeneggs by secret tea party
greeneggs, a photo by secret tea party on Flickr.

This is something i was inspired to make after rummaging through my fridge this morning. It’s always fun to let the ingredients you already have lead the way.

Greens and Eggs
serves 1


– 2 eggs
– 1/2 a bunch of dandelion greens, stems trimmed off and leaves roughly chopped (you could use practically any greens you want instead, but dandelion is especially healthy!)
– 1 green onion, thinly sliced
– cooking oil, i used grapeseed
-1/4 tsp zaatar
-1/2 tsp tumeric
-1/2 tsp cumin
-salt and pepper to taste

Heat up oil in a small pan over med-high. Add the greens and the onions. Stir in all of the spices and some salt and pepper. Cook for about 1 minute or until greens are wilted but still vibrant green.
Meanwhile, beat the eggs in a small bowl. When greens are done cooking, add them to the eggs. Mix well to coat the greens with the eggs.
Heat up the pan you have just used, you shouldn’t even need anymore oil. Add egg mixture. Cook until eggs are almost set on bottom and use a spatula to stir and scramble the eggs. You could always leave it as an omelet style as well, but i liked it this way today.


Note: I am addicted to condiments, so you might notice that i used ketchup and hot sauce in the photo.

healthy daze: broccolini and mushroomss

April 25, 2011
secret feasts by secret tea party
secret feasts, a photo by secret tea party on Flickr.

Today i decided i would work on my summer body. TIME IS RUNNING OUT! This means a lot of greens and brown rice. Less wheat and dairy, here i come.

I adapted this recipe from Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries:


– cooked short grain brown rice
– a handful of broccolini
– a couple mushrooms, chopped
– a thumb sized knob of ginger, sliced into thin matchsticks
– 2 garlic cloves roughly chopped
– 1 spring onion thinly sliced, dark green parts included
– a couple glugs of oyster sauce
– grapeseed oil
– salt and pep


Wash and then trim the bottoms of the broccolini. Boil a small pot of water and steam broccolini in a bamboo steamer for approx 8 minutes, or until cooked but still with a bit of crunch. Meanwhile heat up oil and saute garlic and ginger until soft, add mushrooms and spring onion. Cook for 2-3 minutes and add oyster sauce. Coat the mushroom mixture well by stirring and let it bubble away for a short while. When the broccolini is done to your taste, pile it on top of the rice and top it off with the mushroom mixture.


Tis the Winter Ale of our Discontent

November 27, 2010

As Gastown plunges into  an icy darkness, the smell of wet bricks and frankincense sends my senses into a tizzy. The frozen power lines of my back alley will attest, only something hardy will do. I find myself reaching for a heavy, black bottle from the shelves of The Wine Thief. It’s called KK by Pretty Things renegade brewery out of Massachusetts and was first brewed by some mysterious stranger in London on November 15th 1901.

Not only does the story of this Edwardian semi-miracle warm my heart, but it seems oh so apropos of my surroundings. The words on the bottle reinforce this feeling, “from a London of great style and influence, where horse-drawn omnibuses crammed the bustling streets”. Hints of cloves and stewed fruits as I poured the hoppy black porter into some unsuitable glass. Flavours of spruce and caramel hinted at Christmas, but it isn’t as thick as I thought it might be. Still, the chocolate lingering on my tongue is the proof in the pudding that this beer is something special.

Another fine British glass comes from sexy Wye Valley lass Dorothy Goodbody. As the story goes she found the recipe while thumbing through her Grandfather’s old books. Good Ole Mr. Jackson notes “The brew pours with a rocky head and has a fragrant, lemon-zest, aroma; a cleansing, resiny, palate, and a very late, lingering, peaty dryness”. The part about peat kindles images of my dad digging for it in Donegal.


Read more…

DAY 2: Still Broke and in Pajamas

November 27, 2010

It is the day after the ribs, I am still sitting on the couch. I have barely eaten a thing. I haven’t left the house at all and its 6:30 pm. I’m thinking about what i am going to make for dinner, because I have to make dinner! I am growing up, leaving my bad habits behind, trying to get in the habit of eating regular meals. (Meals I made myself even!)  Normally, I would pull up the yummy web site and order myself a delicious pizza, or perhaps some cheap sushi. BUT NOT ANYMORE DAMMIT!

Sean was about to start watching the hockey game. It was the perfect moment for me to think about what I could create with what i have in the house. So, instead of ordering pizza, I decided I would make pizza. I’m not talking a classic pepperoni and cheese here people, (I didn’t have pepperoni anyway). I wanted to make a pizza I had been dreaming of for some time…..Breakfast Pizza!!

I got it from one of my very favourite blogs,

Breakfast Pizza adapted from Smitten Kitchen (dot com)

Pizza Dough

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tb olive oil

I start off by activating my yeast! Add yeast to lukewarm water in a bowl and let it froth for 10-12 minutes. Once it has gotten all murky and cloudy pour it into a bowl that you have added the flour, and salt to and then also mix in the olive oil. Stir the mixture up until it is well incorporated and dump it out onto a floured surface. It’s going to be a bit sticky and little bits are going to fall out on there own, stick them to the ball of dough as best as you can. Knead the dough until its quite smooth. Oil a bowl and place the ball of dough in the bowl with a light dribbling of olive oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Leave it for an hour or more. You can leave it over night if you need to.

When the dough has doubled in size dump it back out onto a floured surface and press out all the air bubbles. Form it into a ball again and leave on surface for another 20 minutes covered with plastic wrap once again.

Sprinkle your pizza stone or baking sheet with cornmeal. Roll out dough (not too thin!) place it on top of baking surface.

Toppings for Breakfast pizza

  • A few strips of bacon
  • A variety of cheeses, I used about a 1/2 cup pecorino, 1/3 cup gruyere, 1/3 old cheddar (just what i had in the fridge)
  • 4 eggs
  • a green onion or 2
  • a finely chopped shallot
  • salt and pepper!

Preheat oven to 500 F. Cook the bacon in a skillet until crispy. Place on a paper towel covered dish to dry out a bit. When cooled off, coarsely chop. Add cheeses to the dough. I started with pecorino, then added the rest. Scatter the bacon and the shallots on top of the cheese. Crack eggs right onto the surface of the pizza.

Spread them out evenly, depending on how big you made your pizza, you can add less eggs or more. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and a grinding of black pepper. Slide that baby in the oven and it should be done in about 10 minutes. Afterwards,  I tossed some chopped green onions on the top and thought that it was pretty much perfect, but you could also add chives, or parsley.



Men and Ribs

November 27, 2010
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An empty bank account  is not an unusual obstacle in my life. Don’t feel sorry for me, I am a young starving artist (ugh, i just barfed a little) it’s to be expected isn’t it? There are times in my life when i am totally broke, but i see it as a learning experience, and a time in which to grow. These are the most difficult moments when I can appreciate all that I have a little bit more. This week was one of those weeks. However, after counting my pennies, so to speak, (actually it was quarters, dimes, and nickels) I found I did have a little bit of money left to buy some groceries for a couple days, just enough to get me through until my next paycheque. PHEW!

After my boyfriend Sean deposited the coins I rolled into my bank account while i was at work, I was left to make some serious decisions. How would I spend the last little bit of money I had in the world? Of course I went all out! I bought some pork ribs, 2 bottles of wine, and a sack full of vegetables in the market from where I work.

I had been thinking about this recipe for a few weeks. I got it out of my favourite of the cookbooks that I own, The Kitchen Diaries, by Nigel Slater. Although I tweaked it slightly.

Pork Ribs with Honey and Anise                                                                                                                                                                                    adapted from Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries

  • 6 Tb Honey
  • 3 Tb Oyster Sauce
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic coarsely chopped
  • 4 whole star anise
  • 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1.5 lb Pork Ribs
  • A glug of dark beer (not required, this was a last minute addition to the marinade by Sean)

Marinate the ribs in a roasting pan or baking dish. To make the marinade pour honey and oyster sauce onto your ribs. Add your chopped garlic, whole star anise, and salt (I used pink himalayan crystal salt) and grind pepper on top. Toss the ribs around a bit to coat them completely. Marinate for at least one whole hour. Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Roast Ribs for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Check them often to make sure they aren’t burning. I had to turn the oven down a bit because the sauces were starting to bubble and boy-oh-boy did i have to scrub my dish to get that sticky stuff off. They are done when the meat is nice and tender.

I ended up serving this dish with rice (which i added two cloves of garlic and a knob of peeled ginger to while it was boiling), a rocket salad with pears and fennel and a fresh oil and lime juice dressing, and some sauteed green beans with garlic.

I had one more day to go before pay day, but I felt rich!

Stickily satisfying these ribs were, and I couldn’t hear the end of it from Sean. He loved every minute of them, and was vocal about it the entire time, oohing and awing ! Yep, i felt prrrreetttyyy good about myself. PRETTY PRETTY PREEEETTYY good.