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Frozen Eggs

Ouch - hope you didn't intend to come across as snippy as your reply sounded to greygarious' innocently helpful response, which, in fairness, was based on incomplete info you had previously provided...

Dec 21, 2013
Celena in General Topics

Your favorite uses of pomegrante molasses?

It's delicious when cooked in the Persian dish, Fesenjan. I find westerners like the dish even better when the following adaptations are made from the traditional recipe: replace sugar with dates as the sweetener, and make it a lot less sweet overall; leave some of the walnuts in pieces; add the chicken near the end of the braising process so that it stays in nice big chunks, rather than shredding into the sauce; a final lovely edit is cooking cubed butternut squash in the stew -- it mellows what can otherwise be too strong a flavour for us waspy types, without changing the essential flavor profile.

Sep 13, 2013
Celena in Home Cooking
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A request for your Cooking Tips emails please

I very much enjoy CHOW, so thank you! However, I get your weekly Cooking Tips emails, and it's kind of annoying that when I click on a story, it often goes to a landing page that just repeats the headline, and I then have to click through that page to get to the actual story or discussion thread (e.g. ' What’s the Best Beef for Everyday Roasts?' story) This inconvenience now makes me hesitate before going to your stories, and I just don't go any more unless I really, really want to... It would be great if you could eliminate this extra step. Thanks!

Aug 09, 2013
Celena in Site Talk

How to Get the Most Out of Saffron

Saffron is the quintessential ingredient in Persian cuisine, and Persian saffron and Persian food are to die for. The traditional Persian method for processing saffron is: ensure saffron is nice and crispy-dry (if not, it can be toasted or some people even microwave it for a few seconds); finely grind saffron, with a pinch of salt, in a mortar and pestle (at this stage it can be decanted and into a spice jar and stored in the fridge); pour in enough hot water to immerse all the saffron, and soak for at least 10 minutes, to soften; pour into whatever you're using it for. Use a little more water to rinse any remaining precious saffron elixir from your mortar into your recipe. If you're using the saffron for rice, Persians take a bit of the cooked rice and stir it into the elixir, then sprinkle the resulting brightly stained rice onto the top of their lovely, fragrant basmati rice.

Aug 02, 2013
Celena in Features

stretching saffron

Thanks for sharing the lovely food shots and creative tips!
Saffron is an ingredient I use in the rice dishes of a line of Middle Eastern ready meals I produce. I use Persian saffron, and the traditional Persian method for processing it, namely: ensure saffron is nice and crispy-dry (if not, it can be toasted or some people even microwave it for a few seconds); finely grind saffron, with a pinch of salt, in a mortar and pestle (at this stage it can be decanted and into a spice jar and stored in the fridge); pour in enough hot water to immerse all the saffron, and soak for at least 10 minutes, to soften; pour into whatever you're using it for. Use a little more water to rinse any remaining precious saffron elixir from your mortar into your recipe. If you're using the saffron for rice, Persians take a bit of the cooked rice and stir it into the elixir, then sprinkle the resulting brightly stained rice onto the top of their lovely, fragrant basmati rice.

Aug 02, 2013
Celena in Home Cooking

January 2013 Cookbook of the Month: Jerusalem: A Cookbook

Dried cranberries, the kind that are widely available in supermarkets, are a good substitute for barberries. They have a similar sweet/tart flavour and look, but are a bit easier on the western palette. Barberries are a bit of an acquired taste, as they’re a bit tarter than we’re accustomed to. Cranberries can be coarsely chopped in a food processor to get them to the right size, if you feel their size matters for the recipe you’re making.

Jan 11, 2013
Celena in Home Cooking

Underappreciated Cuisines & The Dishes You Would Choose To Spotlight Them

Persian food is 'oh my god' good -- so comforting and delicious and as accessible to the western palate as Italian ro Greek. I mean, I love Indian, etc, but find I can eat it only every so often, whereas I can eat Persian as often as I eat pasta. Of course, it may be because I've had the good fortune to have lots of Persian friends, so I've eaten lots of delicious homemade Persian food over the years (Persians are very hospitable :) ). As well, on travels to the Middle East (Egypt, Israel and a culinary tour of Turkey), I expected to find food similarly delectable to the Persian I'd had here, but while there were good dishes, it didn't compare overall to Persian. A Persian friend explained to me that Persian food is to Middle Eastern food what French food is to European food -- granted, she could be biased, but in my culinary cruising to date, I'd have to agree that Persian cuisine is by far the most developed, refined and delicious of all the Middle Eastern dishes I've experienced. My faves are their leek/parsley/beef stew (gormeh sabsi -- pardon my spelling), the lamb & eggplant stew (khoresh de bademjan), the pomegranate chicken, (fesanjan) and of course their awesome rice dishes. Having grown up on bland German-Canadian rice (sorry mom!), my first experience of Persian basmate rice was revelatory -- I still remember it all these years later -- it was a beautiful preparation of 'shereen polow', which I believe is basmati rice steamed with saffron, butter, orange peel, julienned carrots, pistachios, and chicken pieces nestled into it... heaven!

Oct 07, 2011
Celena in General Topics

Source for Dried Seville Orange Peel?

Not sure if they use Seville oranges or not, but you can find dried orange peel in most Persian grocery stores. The brand they sell is usually Sadaf.
I'd actually love to know which suppliers you found for 'sweet' orange peel, if you have them handy... Thanks!

Jul 10, 2010
Celena in General Topics

Szechuan Chonquing (Commercial Drive)

Funny enough, based on the reviews on this site, my husband and I tried the Commercial Dr location, and ourmy experience was just the opposite -- we preferred the W Broadway location to the Commercial Dr location, especially the food quality. Go figure...

Feb 14, 2010
Celena in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)

Seasonal and Funky Vancouver Restaurants [Moved from Canada board]

Had a so-so dinner at the Pear Tree, but certainly not worth the trip out of Vancouver, and the service was awful. A bottle of wine we ordered was badly 'off'. We ordered a replacement, and they charged us for both! Also, the server had a bad attitude. Better off staying in town for the best food and service. Bishop's, Lumiere, Pastis, Chambar, Il Giardino are all better...

Jul 11, 2008
Celena in Western Canada Archives

Seasonal and Funky Vancouver Restaurants [Moved from Canada board]

I third Bishop's. Guaranteed to leave you with fond memories... John Bishop sources his produce from local farmers he has developed relationships with, and he's such a gentleman, to boot.

Oct 10, 2007
Celena in Western Canada Archives

Vancouver B.C. for 3 days-must eats?

Must-eats in Vancouver are Chinese, Japanese and Indian. I don't think we do Caribbean well, as far as I know (Toronto is better for that). My picks:
Japanese: Tojo's (but Groovin is right, there are sooo many good japanese places -- Nikko, Happa Izakaya on Robson, Guu).
Chinese: Szechuan Chongqing, or Shanghai Bistro on Alberni, or Imperial on Burrard, or Victoria on W Georgia. I find Sun Sui Wah okay, but not brilliant, maybe because I prefer Szechuan over Cantonese...
Indian: Vij's (or Raga on Broadway for more traditional Indian, and the best butter chicken anywhere).
Enjoy!

Mar 26, 2007
Celena in Western Canada Archives

The Only

I haven't been there since the early '80's, due to the seedy location, but you're tempting me to return...

Mar 26, 2007
Celena in Western Canada Archives

Need a rec for a nice restaurant near Robson (Vancouver, BC)

If you want to stay downtown, and want an upscale dinner experience, my reco's would be: for Italian, Cafe de Medici on Robson, or Il Giardino on Hornby (their tortellini melts in your mouth); for Japanese, Kamei Royale on Georgia or Hapa Izakaya on Robson; for classic western/continental, Chartwell in the Four Seasons (impeccable service) or the Parkside on Haro; for Chinese, Shanghai Bistro on Alberni, or Victoria on Georgia, or Imperial on Burrard. Avoid Cin Cin -- it's achieved '3 strikes' status with me, for the disappointing food. I also agree with the others -- Lumiere is worth the cab ride, as is Bishop's. Actually, Bishop's is probably my favorite pick, even ahead of Lumiere -- John Bishop uses all local, organic ingredients, and is the nicest man, and the atmosphere is more relaxed than Lumiere. Feenie has the Iron Chef reputation, and the food is amazing, but I think John Bishop is more of a Vancouver insiders' favorite.

Mar 26, 2007
Celena in Western Canada Archives

How is the Smoking Dog Bistro in Vancouver?

Haven't been to the Cafe de Paris for years, but it used to offer great steak frites. The food at the Smoking Dog used to be pretty good, but my friends and I stopped going there a few years ago because of the terrible service, and because there are better French food options in Vancouver. I agree with Moz, Bistro Pastis is very good, and has a lovely setting. Gramercy food was kind of pre-fab-ish. A great secret is Salade Des Fruits -- a small, very authentic bistro, excellent value for the money, best moules frites in town, but it doesn't have an upscale setting, and you must reserve well in advance, and ask for a table 'inside', not in the foyer. If you're willing to hike over to West Van, La Regalade is, bar none, the best homestyle French food around -- their Beef Bourguignon and mashed potatoes are 'oh my god' good! If you're not tied to having french fare, Feenies is a really happening bistro-style restaurant, with delicious, innovative food, good service, and a very happening atmosphere.

Mar 26, 2007
Celena in Western Canada Archives

Cake in Vancouver

Notte's Bon Ton is one of the oldest bakeries in Vancouver, and famous for its traditional, delicious buttercream diplomat cakes (I prefer the 'Religious' version, without alcohol, just layers of cake, buttercream, and crispy pastry). Le Beau is a Belgian bakery that makes a wonderful Carmelita cake (haven't had it for a long time, so hope they still make it). Capers makes the best old-fashioned chocolate cake, best cupcakes, and lots of their baking includes organic ingredients. La Petite France makes the most authentically French croissants in town (I used to love their Chausson aux pommes, but I think they stopped making these), and Trafalgars makes a tasty galette (pear?). All of these places are quality bakers, using only 'real' ingredients, sooo good!

Mar 26, 2007
Celena in B.C. (inc. Vancouver)