Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Strawberry Mania... Jams, Crepes and Watermelon Dessert...

School year is wrapping up, and that means my beloved newcomers culinary program comes to a close for summer break. What to cook with my lovely students to bid them farewell and give them something to remember me and our last class by? Fresh bright red sweet strawberries abound everywhere I go, and wouldn't it be such a delicious send off cooking together in some of my favourite things to do with them-- crepes, jam and combined with watermelon and strawberry milk for a fun dessert you can eat and drink. DIY strawberry jam in little mason jars as a token take-home gift and learning to carve a cool serving bowl out of watermelon-- now that's what I call preserving the memories and flavours of cooking together that will hopefully inspire the kids to enjoy the summer fun ahead with foods they can make for or with their friends and family! This is my wish for these classes-- sharing it forward waaaay beyond the classroom.

Yes no cook strawberry jam-- a great way to preserve and savour the top berry of summer.

Easy No-Cook Strawberry Jam (from Kraft Canada)
Makes 5-1/2 cups

1-3/4 cups crushed strawberries (start with 4 cups of strawberries)
4 cups sugar
1 pouch (85 mL) Certo Liquid Pectin
2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Mix berries and sugar until blended. Let stand 10 min., stirring occasionally. Add pectin and juice; stir 3 min. or until most the sugar is dissolved. Pour into clean jars or plastic containers; cover with tight-fitting lids. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours or until set. Freeze up to 1 year or refrigerate up to 3 weeks. 
How to Crush Strawberries: Use a potato masher to crush the strawberries, crushing them one layer at a time. For best results, do not crush the berries in a food processor. 

Extra TIP: Add 1 Tbsp. orange or lemon zest to crushed strawberries before mixing with remaining ingredients. 

Silver Spring students excitedly mashing and filling jars.

Capping to preserve the sweet memories of our culinary class.


Basic Crepes (adapted from Kraft Canada)
Makes about 8  8-inch crepes

1-1/2 cups milk
3 eggs
2 Tbsp. oil
1 cup flour

Whisk milk, eggs and oil smooth. Add flour; whisk until batter is well blended and smooth. Pour into bowl; cover. Refrigerate 30 min.

Lightly coat skillet with cooking spray. Heat on medium heat. Pour 3 Tbsp. batter into skillet; rotate to coat evenly. Cook 1 min. or until golden on underside. Loosen edge with rubber spatula and turn out of pan onto paper towel. Stack, browned side up. If storing to use later, place a waxed paper between each crepe.

Humber Summit newcomer students enjoying crepes for the first time!

A fury of crepe-making over at Beverley Heights!

Silver Springs students customizing their crepe-licious!
Here's the cool watermelon carving-- hollowed out watermelon half as a serving bowl for fruit...

Or as a punch bowl... Here making one of my favourite refreshing summer desserts-- Korean Hwachae--  watermelon and strawberry milk soup in a fun serving vessel to entertain with! A dessert kids and adults alike will love...

Henry Kelsey students had fun being introduced to fruit-carving!

Take a whole watermelon, slice a piece off both ends to create a flat bottom (not too deep to puncture the flesh or it will leak), and cut fruit in half. With a large spoon, scoop out all the fruit and place into a container and pour out all it juice into a large bowl; use immediately or freeze for several hours (the pieces should be chunky with some small pieces).

Take a small knife, cut triangles or alternating squares working your way around the melon rim (don`t worry about being perfect-- no one will notice or care). Remove the melon pieces from the freezer-- it should be slushy and icy but not frozen hard; if it is give an hour or so to thaw a bit.

Korean Watermelon and Strawberry Milk Dessert Soup (Hwachae)

1 hollowed watermelon half
watermelon pieces and juice
strawberries, washed and quartered (If not sweet enough, toss with some sugar and let sit for 1/2 hour)
strawberry milk
ice if desired

To serve, place the strawberries in the hollowed watermelon. Add the watermelon and pour in the milk to almost filled. If not serving right away refrigerate. Add ice if desired upon serving.


I`ve always been attracted to fruity Asian desserts and beverages that excite the senses-- flavourful, textural and beautifully presented. When the humidity of the summer air creates parched throats everywhere, Korean Hwachae`s refreshing soothing cold fruit soup is guaranteed to quench and quell! Asian cuisines often call this kind of dessert a soup-- a dessert you can eat and a beverage you can drink in one! For more fun variations, including an adult version-- check out my post.

Korean Watermelon Strawberry Milk Hwachae

Cheers to a fantastic and safe summer! Hope to see your friendly faces again...

Monday, June 4, 2018

My China Chapter in the New Taste of the Place Global Cookbook....

It's heeeeeeeere......!!! Over the moon ThRiLLeD to have received the much-anticipated global cookbook Taste of The Place (Authentic recipes from real kitchens around the globe) conceptualized and produced by Julie Ann Cockburn from Oregon, USA who I have had the complete honour to collaborate a chapter with. Lovely Julie is a real food advocate, food photographer and writer with a knack for discovering regional cuisines through cooking and travelling, featured on her site Taste of The Place, now blossomed into it's very own cookbook- Congrats Julie!!! She has also graced Susan's Savour-It! as my very first guest blogger with her delicious autumn Roasted Acorn Squash with Zingy Greens. Along with 12 other food writers from around the world, each with our own countries' chapter, I contributed four recipes for China (an appetizer, main meal, side and dessert) from my beloved heritage on Cantonese Chinese cuisine. Read on for more on how to order an e-book or printed cookbook and for a discount code.

As Julie says, "this is about bringing people together over food, even though they are worlds apart!"

For info. to order an E-Book or Printed Cookbook

Here are a few highlights to whet your appetite –
  • Enjoy over 50 authentic, regional recipes from real kitchens around the globe, each accompanied by beautiful, full-color photos.
  • Each regional chapter explores what makes the food from that area so special.
  • Gain personal insights into the culinary cultures of 13 different parts of the world. 
  • The areas of the world we will explore together – Argentina, China, Curaçao, Czech Republic, India, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Romania, South Africa, Cornwall in the United Kingdom, The Midwest United States, and The Southwest United States. 
  • For more information of how to order an E-Book or Cookbook, see HERE.

Taste of the Place

Meet my fellow brilliant and beautiful women contributors from around the world...

From top left clockwise to bottom left: Mira Jirrar on Jordan; Petra Novotna on Czech Republic; Susan Ng on China; Prachi Grover on India; Sandra Mukidza on Kenya; Lindsey Shifley on the Midwest, USA; Maria Elena Ledesma on Argentina; Debbie Thorpe on Cornwall, U.K; Rebecca Bourhill on South Africa; Terri Salminen on Italy; Muriel Strobos on Curaçao; Dana Visternicu on Romania and Amy Baker Wambold on the Southwest, USA

Now meet the one and only Super Julie, who single-handedly put this entire book together!

Julie Ann Cockburn, Bend Oregon, USA

I had a chance to interview Julie to learn about her vision and the journey that went into  making the book.

What inspired you to create this global cookbook and how did you select the contributors?

The Taste Of The Place cookbook was inspired by my realization after a magical dinner on the Oregon coast that every meal has the potential to tell the story of a place. The ingredients, the flavors, and even the cooking techniques give us a glimpse into the history, culture, and land of that particular part of the world.

I originally met all the contributors through the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution ambassador program. I was inspired by each of these 13 women not only because of their love of delicious and REAL food but because of their passion for exploring and sharing their own unique cultures. So when it came time to begin the Taste Of The Place cookbook project, they were the perfect, natural fit.

Collecting, testing and compiling recipes from food contributors around the world must have been exciting and overwhelming at the same time. What was the biggest challenge and learnings?

There were certainly a lot of challenges to gathering and preparing these recipes to go to print. In some cases, language barriers were a challenge, and of course, there was the issue of converting units and measures. But the biggest challenge was trying to interpret ingredients that are commonplace in one culture, but unknown in North America. For example, in Romania, they have a very different cheese culture than we do here in the US, and there isn't a lot of online information to help out. I actually spent weeks researching and then testing cheeses for the Romanian Tocinei (potato pancakes) and Papanasi (cheese donuts) recipes before finally settling on what I thought were acceptable substitutes to the traditional Romanian cheeses. I have to admit - it was a tasty challenge!
Speaking of Dana's Romania recipes- I had the opportunity to make these recipes as part of the proofing and retesting process. The results were sensational. Take a look here.

Your book is such a celebration of not only recipes, but stories and traditions of cultures from around the world. Was there a particular cuisine or dish that really stood out or resonated with you?

Of course, I love all the chapters in the cookbook and have many recipes that I regularly make at home for my family, but yes, I do have my favorite favorites! I love savory, spicy beef dishes, so the Jordanian Royal Kebabs and the South African Bobotie are personal favorites.

What is your aspiration for this wonderful and collaborative cookbook project?

My hope in sharing all these beautiful recipes and food cultures is that readers will be inspired to embark on a culinary adventure. I believe that by reading the personal stories that accompany the recipes, and tasting these dishes from around the globe, that they will gain a deeper understanding of and connection to not only the regions featured in the cookbook, but also to the rich diversity that the world has to offer.
Thank you Julie! I can't wait to cook out of this globe-trotting recipe book.

So EXCITED last week to have received the books by mail :D

Thank you Julie... I finally have a copy in my hot lil' hands! YAY!

My Cantonese Chow Mein has always been the top contender as my most popular blog post, and that's after 600 posts. And I'll say I'm not surprised in the least-- it's such a gorgeous dish, full of healthful veggies, colour and textures all smothered in a glazy sauce over fried egg noodles! I was so pleased to learn that this beautiful rendition by Julie made running photo after the cookbook's cover page.

Photo Credit: Taste of the Place by Julie Cockburn

Sharing my recipe for steamed fish fillets Cantonese-Style (not whole fish) with Julie remarking, "it's such a perfect and approachable recipe for introducing people to Chinese cooking!" This dish uses readily frozen fish fillets, with no bones to contend with. Beautifully styled and shot Julie! :D

Cantonese Steamed Fish with Ginger, Cilantro & Green Onions

Cantonese Steamed Fish with Ginger, Cilantro & Green Onions

Admiring the history of my heritage roots and classic black and white photos of my dad cooking.
Take a close up read on this very page spread.

Back story: I was flipping through old yellowing family photo albums and sighted these photos I totally forgot about.. it caught me off guard and brought tears to my eyes. These were of my dad before I was born-- the first one of him learning to roast a pig when he went over to neighbouring Hong Kong from Guangzhou, China and the other when he was working in my aunt's restaurant in Newfoundland before coming to Toronto. I just love these rare B&W photos of him! We owned two Chinese restaurants after I was born, and my mom is a wicked cook, no wonder I got cooking in my blood :D.
I can't wait to gift this cookbook to my parents. My dad will be surprised and hopefully very proud!

My father learning how to roast an entire pig-- a hallmark-must for a Cantonese chef. 

How do you get your hands on a copy? You can get an E-book or a printed cookbook shipped out of the States. They are on PRE-order until the release date June 26th. To my readers, I am offering a discount code of $5.00 US off the E-book, and 20% off the printed book. The code to use is: susanssavourit. Click HERE for pricing, and a sneak peek into two of my recipes.

I hope you enjoy reading the book and trying something new…
Here’s to taking the culinary adventure into your kitchen!
Susan Ng

Monday, May 28, 2018

Fun In The Sun With Fresh From Florida Produce...

Fresh From Florida saves the day giving us the earlier taste of summer when our Ontario produce are not quite ready. Fresh From Florida programs help to connect Florida farmers with consumers both in Canada, US and across the world. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) helps their 47,000 agricultural producers to promote their produce around the world, as individually these farmers do not have the resources to take their goods to market.

Having the pleasure to work with LiveWell Marketing representing Fresh From Florida, this weekend, I was at Sobeys Queensway in Etobicoke to highlight their sweet corn, green peppers, watermelon, zucchini (called summer squash in US) and grape tomatoes in simple recipe ideas to the delight of interested customers. Get Inspired....

Love those zucchini noodle spirals from a hand gadget called the spiralizer! This one's from OXO.

Tossed with watermelon, grape tomatoes and simply dressed with lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper with a touch of fresh basil or mint, you've got an impressive picnic-worthy delicious salad! The sweetness of watermelon nicely balances the tart of the lime juice.

Here's Tamara @theculinarynutritionist, the lead on this project and the developer of these tasty easy recipes.

Credit: LiveWell Marketing

Kids will love these literally cool and cute watermelon zucchini ribbon pops!

Credit: LiveWell Marketing

Try a chunky sauce-less salsa with ingredients you can see. Sweet corn salsa with corn so sweet, no need to cook first, just take them straight off the cob. Or grill first for an extra caramelize char-grilled flavour! Toss in some chopped jalapeno for a spicy kick!

Credit: LiveWell Marketing

Did you know all bell peppers start out green and if left to ripen they turn yellow or orange, and then eventually red? AND a green pepper has twice as much vitamin C as an orange. You learn something new every single day...

Photo Credit: BuzzFeed

So FuN to work with these star ladies Vijaya and Tamara!

Give these recipes a try at your next al fresco gathering...

Perfectly delicious and unique, these flavours will surely bring on the summer fun :D

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Appetizer Tasters to Celebrate Thorncliffe's School Achievements...

School is almost finished.... How do we celebrate the achievements of both students and parents in the Thorncliffe Community where I have been teaching culinary classes to moms?... With a wrap party of course! The elementary students at Thorncliffe Public school will be showcasing their fantastic artwork in a photo gallery exhibit- VOICES and my brigade of community kitchen moms will be preparing tasters of assorted appetizers, dips and sips like a cocktail party where you can eat, browse and mingle. What a perfect occasion to share and exchange the pride of work accomplished during this school year, and in anticipation for summer vacation ahead!

We created appetizers as a mini rehearsal to the big event, and also as a staff-appreciation day where teachers and facility members were invited to come give a taste in what's to come. It was also my last cooking class with these wonderful moms and just before Mother's Day weekend, so the kitchen atmosphere was abuzz with lively conversations and laughter. Ashima Suri, the school's AmaZing program facilitator shared in her TDSB article, "Filled with emotion, Afra, a mother of four was eager to let us know that out of all the days of the week, she most looked forward to Thursdays. It was her day to dress up. Her day to spend some time engaging and learning. It was her time for herself – to give her the space to just be. And that was exactly what the experience at TDSB Newcomer Services – Welcoming Communities was all about." I share the same sentiments my dear friend! For more see: TDSB Welcoming Communities: Momma’s Day! Food and New Friends.

How did I select the menu to feature? Drawing back on my entertaining days and love for making appetizers, I wanted to highlight elements from our eight-session cooking classes (Spring dips and Vietnamese cuisine) with an emphasis on fresh herbs, health, colours, textures and variety, and some of my all-time faves!

Inspired by working with real fruit-infused water from another school's health and wellness night, I had to piggy back off on it-- customized mason jars as a take-home gift for Mother's Day for my favourite moms! YAY! Blood oranges and citrus brightens any day, and goes so perfect with steeped bing cherry black tea, cold with mixed berries, pomegranate seeds, cucumber slices and fresh mint!

Love the freshness and vibrant rainbow of colours!

Everyone was gung-ho in creating a spectacular experience for our guests!

Cocktail Shrimps in Lemon Yogurt Dill on Cucumber Rounds
Makes about 40 pieces

2 cucumbers, peeled and sliced 1/2” thick rounds 
Baby cocktail shrimps, cooked, frozen and thawed, drained well, coarsely chopped

Makes 1 cup sauce:
3/4 cup plain natural yogurt (Balkan-style)
1/4 cup mayonnaise or sour cream
fresh dill, chopped
fresh chives, chopped
salt and ground black pepper to taste
Splash of fresh lemon juice
ground paprika

Mix shrimps with some yogurt sauce (just enough to coat well). Spoon shrimp mixture onto the cucumber rounds. Garnish with a sprig of dill and a sprinkle of ground paprika. Extra sauce can be use as a dip with vegetable dippers.

Cocktail Shrimps in Lemon Yogurt Dill on Cucumber Rounds

Spicy Shrimps with Avocado on Rice Crackers
Makes 20 pieces (double the recipe to make twice the savouries)

1 Tbsp. olive oil
20 large shrimps, shelled (300 g frozen shrimps count 16/20)
1 Tbsp. chilli garlic paste (such as sambal oelek), adjust according to spice levels
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 ripe avocados, finely diced
1 green onion, sliced
1/2 lemon, juice and its zest
20 sesame or plain rice crackers
20 cilantro leaves
Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Cook shrimps for two minutes per side until they turn bright orange and opaque. Add 1 tsp. to 1 Tbsp. chili paste and stir to coat, continuing to cook for 30 seconds more. Remove from heat and set aside.

Combine cilantro, avocados, green onion, lemon juice and zest in a bowl. Top each cracker with 1 Tbsp. avocado spread and a shrimp. Garnish with a cilantro leaf. Serve immediately.

Spicy Shrimps with Avocado on Rice Crackers

Shredded Chicken and Herbs Vietnamese-Style on Endive Leaves
Makes about 25 endive boats

1-1/4 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken breast, cooked and finely shredded
½ cucumber, small dice
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
1/4 cup chopped Thai basil leaves
Endives, leaves separated into boats

1 Tbsp. sugar
1/3 cup warm water
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 red bird’s eye chilli, minced (optional)

Combine chicken, cucumber and herbs. Mix sauce together and add to chicken. Spoon 1 Tbsp. chicken mixture onto the rounded end of an endive leave. Top each with finely shredded mint as a garnish. Serve on a platter.

TIP: Shred cooked chicken meat easily with your fingers when it is cooled.

Check out my Vietnamese-Style Shredded Chicken and Herbs Salad 

Endive leaves make perfect edible spoons! The presentation is so inviting...

Love these ladies touch with cucumber skin roses :D

Make-Ahead Curry Mushroom Palmiers
Makes 40 pieces

1 Tbsp. oil
1-1/2 lbs. mushrooms, chopped
1 Tbsp ground curry
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
½ cup finely chopped green onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 sheets (375-g pkg.) frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, lightly beaten, and add 1 Tbsp. water

Heat oil in skillet on medium-high heat. Cook mushrooms and garlic for 2 minutes. Add curry, oyster sauce and onions; cook and stir 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Roll puff pastry sheet on lightly floured surface to 10 “ X 14” rectangle. Spread half of mushroom mixture on 1 sheet of pastry, leaving 3-inch lengthwise border on 2 sides. Fold in lengthwise sides to meet in centre. Flatten slightly. Brush top and seam with egg. Fold in half again; press sides together. Again brush top and seam with egg; cover with wrap. Freeze 30 minutes.

Cut rolls into 1/2-inch slices. Place cut-side up, on lightly greased baking sheets. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until browned.

Make Ahead- Palmier logs can be made 2 days ahead, covered in plastic wrap and refrigerated. Slice and bake when ready.  Note: Leftover baked palmiers can be stored in resealable plastic bag in freezer for up to 1 month. Reheat at 375°F 8 to 10 minutes.

Substitute mushrooms with 1 lb. of ground beef.

Other parents visit us in session as we highlight our program in hopes they will join us next school year.

Super gorgeous plating ladies...

Our staff guests have arrived... and they ooohed and aaahed through sights and bites...

I was so happy to see the pride in these moms as they serve this and that...

A lovely trio of appetizers right there...

And of course, a nice refreshing cool finish with my favourite Southeast Asian-Style dessert... 

Coconut Jackfruit Tapioca

We can't wait for the Thorncliffe community to savour more of our goodies!