Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Cookbook Update and Summer Fun...

Hi all πŸ‘‹πŸ‘‹πŸ‘‹... It's been a very long time! I had finished teaching mid June and spent a few weeks intensely writing up the 50 recipes for my upcoming Asian Cuisines cookbook πŸ²πŸ“–! I am happy to say that I submitted my draft final manuscript and its in the development editing stage πŸ€—. I will be taking a break to get things done around the house and to immerse myself in yoga practice again. I miss that!

I won't be able to share the focus of my book or title until September. We have a marketing plan in place and to optimize its promotion, this will take place several weeks prior to the launch date. So stay tuned 😊!

Looking forward to hanging out by the pool and swimming...

Spending time with mainly my family and a close friend or two...

Isn't this butcher block in dark walnut a beaute? A custom piece to replace a poor quality counter top that came with this island. What craftmanship 😍! I love the natural wood grain and colour gradation. I can chop directly on it but I will preserve it longer by not. There will be lots of activity in the horizon- prep, knead, roll, chop, slice, dice and everything nice on it! I highly recommend Knotty's Woodwork in Mississauga for DIY kitchen projects πŸ’₯! 

Inaugurated the counter that very weekend we were able to entertain again. And it was with Filipino Kamayan al fresco.

I have never been good at taking care of plants and flowers. With these gorgeous perennials in my back and front yards, how lucky am I not having to, although I am beginning to take more care by paying attention to the few planters and flowers that were newly added.

Moved in towards the end of last summer, we have been delightfully surprised every couple of weeks with the pops of beauty since spring 🌷🌿🌸. 

Every day has been "stop to smell the roses". To appreciate their fine beauty, and both a mental and inspiring break between my cooking classes and writing. Just sitting and looking around me replenishes and invigorates without having to leave the house. For that I am grateful and feel blessed πŸ™.

I hope you all can tap into your happy place 🌞⚘ and enjoy the best of this year's summer!

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Wrapping Up Asian Heritage Month and Then Some...


Dumplings πŸ₯Ÿ and Noodles 🍜, two beloved staples that transcends Asian cultures, with each country having their own nuances and specialties. 

Two wonderful events to celebrate Asian Heritage Month with a deep dive conversation on cuisine, culture and contribution with @tdsb_cs newcomer youths! It was a small group but nonetheless impactful πŸ’₯πŸ’—! 

Thank you to Fatma and Derek from Welcoming Communities for your support in taking up on my idea to promote this to our students and to our incredible guest and my friend Jennifer Uy @happy.naturalproducts for your stories of trials and tribulations as an immigrant, a singer and entrepreneur. 

Jennifer Uy is a strong advocate for beauty from within for all colours, orientation and sizes. Being an immigrant, local woman entrepreneur, professional singer, and of Asian descent, she knows all too well the emphasis society places on looks and fitting in. 

Jennifer was inspired by her grandmother's daily rituals and founded and developed Happy Natural Products with modalities of Traditional Chinese Medicine practiced by her great grandfather who is a doctor of TCM.  She joined me to talk about her challenges of assimilation, balancing cultural roots and societal expectations and eventual empowerment coming into her own 🌷.

Kickstarted Asian Heritage Month of May with a Chinese classic fried rice and chicken lettuce wraps with youths in my after school cook along program.

Then with Korean chapchae noodles...

A captivating cuisine tradition in Japan called Yoshoku marries Japanese and Western ingredients & flavours to create delicious mouthwatering dishes such as tender hambagu (bunless hamburger steak). Simply served with steamed πŸ₯•πŸ₯¦, 🍚 and homemade teriyaki sauce (mirin, soy sauce and suga' πŸ˜‹πŸ€€πŸ€€) this is a homestyle fave!

Ahhh... bringing in the tropics 🌞πŸ₯­ instantly with Filipino Kamayan- the experience of eating with your hands πŸ‘, often called a Boodle Fight to finish the Asian cuisine series with youths ! Shout out to VJ for her gorgeous platter πŸ’—πŸŒΊ! 

At Casa Manila restaurant where I had my first  experience years ago so beautifully describes, "imagine having a picnic in a tropical setting where you're free to taste, touch and savour a feast of textures laid on top of fragrant rice. Picture yourself using your hand to feed yourself from a bed of banana leaves as your plate while quenching your thirst drinking fresh juice from a coconut." And that is the "Mabuhay spirit" of the Filipino islands, which means long live and welcome. Classical family-style home cooking and entertaining is celebrated with unforgettable hospitality and like a fiesta with the freshest ingredients. #restaurantinspiredhomecooking

Today, my banana leaf covered platter consists of grilled shrimps, adobo kalbi ribs, turmeric chicken, over garlic fried rice and lightened with a simple green and tomato salad, fresh mango slices and crunchy chicarron. Soy garlic vinegar and sriracha lime sauces for dip and of course, a fresh coconut to cheers - TaGay πŸ₯₯❤!

Celebrating Asian Heritage Month with a united passion for food πŸ₯’πŸ’— with huge Shout Outs to these fine respected chefs for their contributions to Asian culture elevating Asian cuisines over decades of cooking, teaching and sharing it forward... 

From top left clockwise to centre. 

Chef Joseph Ho, a well-respected powerhouse Executive Chef at Lee Kum Kee and prominent member of the Chinese Culinary Association to preserve and promote Chinese cuisine. 

Chef Frederick Oh founded Richmond Hill Culinary Arts Centre. Over the years, he has represented Canada in the Culinary Olympics and Expo Gast Culinary World Cup.

Chef Smita Chandra, a respected authority on South Asian cuisines, is a renowned Indian cookbook author and cooking instructor.

Chef Oliver Li, @oliver_li_cmc is a Certified Master Chef (CMC) which is the highest possible culinary credential attainable in Canada! He tenured as Chef de Cuisine at George Brown College's student-training restaurant "Siegfried's" for 15 years.

Chef Florence Kwok, specializes in authentic Asian cuisines and has been featured on TV and Chinese channels. I don't know if she is still teaching, but I admire her tremendously as a noteable woman chef who has elevated the diverse multi-cuisines of Asian home cooking in Toronto. 

Chef Tim Chen @timchen4485 Executive Chef at Markham's Lanna Cuisine offering Northern Thai cuisine, delivering exquisite and authentic flavours.

Chef Sang Kim, @chefsangkim conducts Sushi Making For the Soul, Canada's most popular hands-on sushi and gimbap-making workshop, which is lauded for the charitable work. He appears regularly on CTV's daytime talk show, The Social.

Chef Susu Han @hansommchef is classically trained in Italian cuisine and a Certified Sommelier. She is a reputable Korean cuisine instructor at George Brown College and a local entrepreneur producing small batch, hand-crafted organic kimchi including pickled beets. 

Chef Martin Yan is a famous Master chef of Chinese cuisine, public figure, and an author of a dozen Chinese cookbooks. He has hosted his award-winning PBS-TV cooking show Yan Can Cook since 1982. 

And lastly *Announcement* Wrapping up Asian Heritage Month with a contribution of my own in the works- I am writing a cookbook ✍πŸ“–πŸ€—!!!!

Halfway through the chapter milestones, I will share details when the final manuscript is delivered. Feeling incredibly ecstatic!

There is a bittersweet story: I received the exciting news by my Publisher that my project was approved, and an hour later we were notified of my husband's father passing in Montreal. From one moment of elation to the extreme end of sadness 😯πŸ˜ͺ. A week prior, I was on the fence whether to take on the project considering he was hospitalized (not covid related) and that my husband would have to travel. Also with my multi spring cooking programs to start, and just the emotions of what's to come, but it became crystal clear (as I stared out the window to that brief bit of snowfall that late April day) that I will write this book and dedicate it to him πŸ’—. To remember happy and healthier times over meals shared together, his legacy will live on through the food pages in my book. Can't wait to launch it #familymomento

I'll keep you posted when I can reveal more on the project!

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

May is Asian Heritage Month...

Every Wednesday for the last three seasons, I have been celebrating Asian cuisines with seniors in my TDSB Learn4life cooking program. And we officially get to do it this May with Asian Heritage Month.

I always start a new term introducing flavours from my Chinese background. Our Spring term began with Beijing ja jiang mein and spicy smashed cucumbers. The hearty ground pork cooked in garlic, ginger and ground bean sauce taste delicious over wheat wide sliced noodles that are slippery, smooth and silky. And with the colourful crunch of carrots, cucumbers and red peppers, it makes it that more delightful!

Awww... this blondie son lol loves his slurpelicious soba noodles! Reenacting this noodle pull look seven years later with my homemade dipping sauce version πŸ‡―πŸ‡΅πŸœ!

Week Two, we did four dishes- Zaru Soba (translates to basket soba as this style is typically served in a weaved basket) and three salads πŸ₯—- wakame seaweed in vinaigrette, creamy shredded crab with cucumbers, and homemade toasted sesame dressing over iceberg lettuce, tomato, egg and wakame. Nice refreshingly cool healthy salads to bring spring indoors 🌱☀️!

And my kids were all over it, perfect timing for lunch with them at home for online school!

It's a good day when it's a mortar & pestle day 🌢🌱! A likely must in lovely Lao Cuisine πŸ‡±πŸ‡¦!

Started off May Asian Heritage Month with the intoxicating Southeast Asian flavours of Laos!

Steamed sticky rice is an absolute must! Cooked in a bamboo steamer lined with a banana leaf, rice is not only to serve the meal with but it acts as cutlery in itself as you pick up a ball of sticky rice between your fingers and scoop up your food with it. We had laap, Laos national dish- using any protein but we had it done with steak, tossed with fish sauce, lime juice, shallots, rau ram and mint herbs. Roasted rice crushed is the key for that nutty taste!

And mok pa (steamed fish in banana leaf parcels) is so fragrant and herbaceously delicious with garlic, shallots, lemongrass, galangal, chilies pounded into a paste then mixed with chopped white fish, dill, green onions and Thai basil /rau ram! Padaek is a chunky fermented fish sauce which is key to Lao food but we subbed with 1/2 fish sauce and 1/2 anchovy paste! An egg and roasted rice powder binds everything together and once steamed, the melt-in-your-mouth tenderness is sublime πŸ€€!

Today was Vietnamese stir-fry lemongrass pork noodle salad (bun thit xao) is a gorgeous bowl that interplay colours, textures and tastes. Cooked fragrant pork shoulder and beansprouts atop soft vermicelli with a heap of crunch from homemade radish and carrot pickles, cucumbers and an onslaught of fresh 🌱🌱🌱 with a ladle of aromatic nuoc cham seasoned fish sauce. A delight for the senses!

Finished with a Vietnamese crab & asparagus soup (sup mang tay cua). The elegance lay in the white on white on white πŸ₯£. Crab meat, white asparagus, quail eggs, clear broth and egg white (I used whole egg) drizzle. This sophisticated thick soup is customarily served at Vietnamese weddings and holidays.

Lots of leftover herbs for lots more meals in the horizon to not waste the freshness! This includes our πŸ‡ΉπŸ‡­ Thai cuisine cooking class next week using Thai basil as the star ingredient!

That's not all, I have been cooking up Asian cuisines with TDSB newcomer youths in my after school cook along program every Tuesday. More on that next post also with a special two day event with youths to have a deep dive conversation on Asian culture and contribution with the awareness of anti-Asian racism while making dumplings πŸ₯Ÿ and noodles 🍜!

Stay tuned πŸ€—πŸŒΈ!

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

TDSB Newcomer Services Youth Cook-Along Program...

Second week into my partnership with TDSB Newcomer Services to teach a weekly After-School Virtual Cook Along program to high school students new to Canada until end of school year. The goal is to impart kitchen skills and food literacy, while honouring multicultural cuisines using both pantry and fresh produce to get dishes prepared in time to serve dinner for families in 1-1/2 hours πŸ‘©‍πŸ³πŸ‘¨‍πŸ³πŸ€—πŸ’₯! 

About last night... Happy Sikh Heritage Month with Indian Chicken Tikka Masala, Fluffy Basmati Rice and Wilted Spinach Raita!

Our first after school cooking class with youths last week was with a North African origin dish Skillet Egg Shakshouka (tomato sauce based with garlic, onions and spices), triple protein enhanced with chickpeas and beef meatballs, and homemade garlic bread for tomato sauce sopping🌷! 

This very shakshouka recipe made its first debut in a demo cooking video I produced for St.Philip's Lutheran church as part of my most recent collaboration in their successful Winter program. 

From North African origin egg shakshouka for Pantry Cooking to salmon cakes in Healthy Foods For Less to Italian lasagna in Big Batch Cooking to Korean rice balls Jumeokbap in Creative Leftovers to carrot orange yogurt cake in Immunity Boosting Foods to sheet pan Greek-style chicken and vegetables in One Pot Cooking, it has been a tasty cultural adventure in our 6 weeks Neighbourhood Table at Home winter program. Addressing food insecurity with food produce boxes from @foodshareto and cooking skills via demo videos to 45 newcomer families and 25 seniors, it's been a pleasure working with you all πŸ’–! 

St. Philip's Lutheran Church, your regular efforts in community building is inspiring with great volunteers and organizers-- Pastor Tuula, Eunice, Raija, Chef Sandy and Meranda- we did good!! I look forward to supporting you again in a future partnership 🌱.

The age of independence should come equipped with skills to fend for oneself and thrive. Cooking skills is a life skill. Knowing how to Shop Smart is an important skill to have. I look forward to share everything I know to help youths learn to cook and eat better for a healthier tomorrow πŸ”ͺπŸ₯¦πŸ₯•πŸ₯”πŸ„.

Can't wait to celebrate Asian and Jewish heritage month of May with more deliciousness!

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Cook For A Cause Part Three-- Food Security in Chinatown...

Happy International Heritage Day with some E.P.I.C. Asian dishes! #cookforacause

In light of the conversations and awareness of the rise in Anti-Asian Racism, the proceeds raised through the 3rd event in this Cook For A Cause series will go to support the food insecure in the Chinese Community. I am looking at you Friends of Chinatown Toronto - FOCT  in collaboration with Community Fridge Toronto CFTO recently added a new fridge on 138 D'Arcy Street / Spadina Avenue. An honour system of 'Take what you need, Leave what you can' with no questions asked, takes away the stigma associated with food insecurity πŸŒ»πŸ™.

Spring is here 🌱! How lovely it was to invite sunshine into our kitchens this greyish Sunday afternoon with fresh herbs and colourful produce. We made Chinese Bang Bang Chicken Noodles, Korean Chapchae Noodles and Vietnamese Green Papaya Salad with Shrimps (see recipe as follows).

Goi Du Du- Vietnamese Green Papaya Salad with Shrimps
Adapted by
Serves 4 to 6

3 Tbsp. fish sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Thai red chilli, minced or sambal oelek
6 to 8 cups shredded green papaya (about 2 lbs. whole papaya)
3/4 lb. medium cooked shrimps, peeled, deveined and tails removed
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 cup chopped mint
1/4 cup chopped rau ram (Vietnamese cilantro)
1/4 cup Thai basil
3 Tbsp. roasted, salted peanuts, roughly chopped

NOTE: if you can’t find some of the herbs, just mix what is listed to yield one cup.

In a small bowl combine the fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, sugar and chilli. Stir well and set aside.

In a large bowl combine the green papaya, shrimps, and fresh herbs; toss. Pour on the dressing and toss again to coat. Sprinkle with the peanuts and serve immediately or let the flavours meld for 10-15 minutes, and then serve. Serve room temperature or chilled.

Well done to those who cooked along πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘!

Thank you once again for your support in my classes to help advance food security πŸ’–πŸ™!

May is Asian Heritage Month! How about a Thai Cooking Workshop? Stay Tuned!

#susanssavourit #internationalheritageday #asiancuisines #asiancooking #cookingclass #bangbangchicken #chapchae #goidudu #endfoodinsecurity #endhunger #foodforall #freshfoodaccess #eatmoreproduce #♥️forthecommunity #chinatownfridge


Thursday, April 8, 2021

Celebrate International Heritage Day with An Asian Cuisines Cooking Workshop...


Did you know Sunday, April 18th is International Heritage Day?

Join me to celebrate Asian cuisines and cultures with a virtual hands-on cooking workshop.

This is the third event in my Cook For A Cause series. In light of the conversations and awareness of the rise in Anti-Asian Racism, the proceeds raised will go to support the food insecure in the Chinese and Asian Communities.

Spring is here ! How lovely to invite sunshine into our kitchens with fresh herbs and produce. We will be making Korean Chapchae, Chinese Bang Bang Chicken Noodles and Vietnamese Green Papaya Salad with Shrimps.

Date: Sunday, April 18th from 1 to 3 pm EST
Cost: $25 Cdn per person, $5 for each additional adult member of your household joining.

Check out the link: for registration and payment details.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Solidarity Against Anti-Asian Racism and All Hate in Toronto...

"We must be the change we wish to see in the world."-- Gandhi

It's been a trying couple of weeks, with everything going around us, but knowing you have support and someone always there in your corner makes things uber better. Thank you chef Steph Lo Mama Lo's Bakery&Kitchen for your friendship and being my ally on so many levels πŸ’›πŸ’›πŸ’›!

I wear my heart on my sleeve and never liked confrontation. Deep emotions are drawn up and words cannot begin to articulate what I feel. However, I realize if I remain silent and don't confront hard truths, what price do we ultimately pay by staying in the comfort zone? And it's not even comfortable...

In the cosmopolitan fabric of Toronto we call home, it should be a safe place for everyone. A sense of pride. A knowing of belonging. This is not the case. Until we continue to have these hard conversations, support communities by speaking up and hold discrimination perpetrators and governments responsible, we will always be steps behind in creating the wonderful city that Toronto has potential to be-- A world class, truly inclusive place to live that embraces people of all colours, heritages and sexual orientation 🌈.

It takes more than an annual one day city event or parade to celebrate! The main focus should be what we are doing to make livelihoods on a day to day basis better and safer that is actionable and sustainable.

Let's eat. Let's chat πŸ₯’!#Repost Steph Lo @mamalosbakeryandkitchen with @repostsaveapp
Had a great time listening to the conversation on, Addressing Anti-Asian Racism hosted by @jillslastword.

The panel was stacked with incredible individuals of the community. Sharing experiences with racism in Canada while being born Chinese. I loved how Councilor Kristyn Wong-Tam owned it for the majority of Asians where we aren't present in supporting others in our community. We must acknowledge and own those facts and work on changing our ways. How can we expect others to show up for us if we don't for them?

Photo Credit: Google

I've read some comments in a group about teaching children to be proud of who we are and of our heritage. As much as I love all of that, I believe it is equally important to teach them about racism and that people are mistreated simply based on the colour of their skin. How we can be an active ally to our fellow BIPOC members.

Bullying. Harassment. Hate. Racism.... they are pretty interchangeable in my opinion when it comes to race.

If we don't start changing or even taking the tiniest step towards it, nothing will ever get done. We will never be heard. The future for our children and generations to come will remain the same - feeling of not belonging here simply based on the colour of our skin.

We are not the world's minority. We are instead, the world's majority.
We are not, "other". We are Asian.

We need to be our own active allies as much as we need others to be as well.

Continuing to believe that staying silent or living in denial will make all this disappear, isn't an option anymore.

Stand up for ourselves.

Break the silence and conditionings that have marked us as, "model minority".

Post. Repost. Share. Educate our loved ones and ourselves. Have those uncomfortable conversations. Respect ourselves. Show up for ourselves. Defend ourselves.

I am not saying to go out there and be disruptive or disrespectful or violent.
I am saying, speak up. Use your voice. Let it be heard. Know YOU matter. WE matter.
We are far from where we need to be but the road to positive changes starts with this very first step πŸ’›.

Silent No More. We. Must. Stop. All. Hate. Sharing my baby sister's sentiments which mirrors mine. To my Asian Community, my brothers and sisters know I stand tall and proud with you #noplaceforhate
#Repost @estheticiantracy with @repostsaveapp
It makes us more impactful together as allies when we come together to fight injustices of all kinds. On March 16th, there was horrific violence that killed many Asian women in Atlanta, Georgia targeted simply because of their race and gender. Please also include Asians in your anti-racism activism. Asian hate crimes and violence has risen since last year's start of the pandemic and many attacks have been on the innocent elderly. Grandmas and Grandpas being attacked and beaten for nothing. Everybody should be treated with dignity and respect. It'll take everyone's help to dismantle all kinds of discrimination, racism and hate and to stop these oppressive systems that pit us against eachother, and end up harming all of us. Speak up when you see and hear injustices. Even allowing the "harmless" stereotypes and jokes can one day fuel the hate for someone to hurt or kill, as we seen yesterday and many times over. Staying silent shows you have chosen the side of the oppressor. Please teach your children to love everyone. This art created by @juliakestnerdesigns beautifully represents what we need more of in this world.