Keep yourself busy in the kitchen with these tasty dishes from local chefs
It’s hard to write about food and restaurants in these unprecedented times, so I asked some of my favourite hospitality folks what they are cooking up at home right now. From cornbread to cocktails, we’ve got you covered.
We know this won’t go on forever, but unless we support these smaller restaurants, they simply won’t be there when this ends—and these restaurants are the places that make Vancouver such a delicious place to live. So, stay safe, stay home, and keep ordering from restaurants as long as you can afford to.
1. Chef Wes Young’s Fancy Instant Noodles
Pidgin is offering takeout and delivery service via Uber Eats and Fantuan, complete with beer, wine and sake. Heads up: their pork belly rice bowl is probably one of the most comforting dishes in the city. Show ‘em some love.
Here's what Chef Wes Young has been cooking at home...
“IndoMie is the most popular instant noodle in Asia. Years ago, I was visiting some colleagues who were chefs in Indonesia and I was really surprised when they lovingly whipped up an elevated instant noodle snack of IndoMie with straw mushrooms, baby corn and a fried egg. The noodles come with five different seasonings. The first sachet has three segments: sweet soy sauce, chilli sauce and seasoning oil with fried onion flakes. The other sachet has two segments for dry seasoning powder and flakes of fried shallot. You can have the noodles with soup or dry.
"Really, you can put just about anything with these noodles. The sweet soy, chili and dried onion is so flavourful. I usually will do a poached egg, julienne (thinly sliced) ham, enoki or shimeji mushrooms, and some crunchy vegetables like snow peas, capsicums (peppers) or carrot... I just use whatever there is in the fridge. My only real constant is a poached egg. It's a no-judgement, spontaneous five-minute noodle soup snack. No stress, no elaborate planning. I don’t have this too often, but it’s my version of KD.”
2. Jean-Francis Quaglia’s Prawns Provençale
For comfort in a hurry, chef-owner of Provence Marinaside Jean-Francis Quaglia turns to Prawns Provençale. “It’s one of the dishes that we’ve had on the menu for the past 20 years, and it’s so easy! It’s just a few ingredients and you do it all in one pan on the stove and it takes a few minutes to cook. If you don’t have cognac, you could use gin or flambé with whisky or Jack Daniels, then eat it with crusty bread.”
Check out the video Jean-Francis made which shows you how to cook this super simple, flavour-packed dish.
Provence has 'French Food Made Easy' kits, which come with everything you need to make this at home—including the cognac! Provence is also running a takeout menu with fresh meals which you can order online from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
‘No one comes into the restaurant and we’re using every precaution to stay safe. You pay by contactless; we are sanitizing everything very often, and we have two tables between us and the guests at pick-up.”
Provence is currently providing daily staff meals for those who are no longer working at the restaurant, “At least if we can feed them every day, they don’t have the expense of that to worry about,” says Jean-Francis.
3. Alain Canuel’s Chickpea Curry
"We’re doing a takeout window at Homer Street which is getting busier by the day. No one comes inside who’s not working and, of course, we’re taking all the necessary precautions with sanitation. We’re offering 50 percent off all our wine, tall cans and six-packs on pick-up. Take a look at the menu and call in an order or use Uber Eats or Doordash.
"At home, one of my favourite recipes is a chickpea curry; you can use stuff from your kitchen cupboard, and you can adjust it however you like it."
- A hot pepper (use as much as you want)
- A few cloves of garlic
- A couple of inches of ginger, fresh or dried
- An onion
- A large can of diced tomatoes
- Two cans of chickpeas
- 6 tbsp of canola or grapeseed oil
- 2 tsp of ground cumin and ground coriander
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp of Garam Masala (you don’t need all the spices, use whatever you have!)
- I also add a bit of smoked paprika as I love that smoky flavour
- Finely chop the onion, pepper, ginger and garlic.
- Warm up the pan and add oil, then fry the mixture for a few minutes. Then add the spices and cook for another couple of minutes.
- Add in the tomatoes and cook for five minutes, then check if you need to add salt.
- Finally, add the chickpeas and cook until warmed through. You can make it go further by adding chopped boiled potato. I like it with wild rice, but any grain will do!
4. Fiona Grieve’s Easy Cornbread
Buckstop is ready to feed your body and soul with superb barbecue and beer from their West End restaurant. Order online via DoorDash or LazyMeal, or stop by to safely pick up from the restaurant (with 20 percent off). They also have growlers available to fill at the restaurant.
Easy Cornbread Recipe
"Everyone’s baking, so here is our amazingly easy cornbread recipe. It is hugely flexible. I like to add jalapeños and cheddar or fresh herbs and fresh corn kernels. The trick is to be patient. If you want cornbread in a hurry, just scoop it into muffin tins and bake it at 400F and it’ll be ready in 25 mins or so—just use a toothpick and when it comes out clean, it’s done and there’s no need to wrap it."
- ¾ cup white flour
- ¾ cup coarse ground cornmeal
- ⅓ cup, plus 2 teaspoons white sugar
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ eggs (whisk together and take a bit out)
- 296 ml buttermilk
- ⅓ cup, plus teaspoons melted salted butter
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Mix dry ingredients.
- Whisk together eggs and buttermilk; slowly whisk in melted butter. Add dry ingredients and pour the whole thing into an oiled and floured 8X4 loaf pan (It may still look a little chunky, that’s totally cool).
- Wrap cornbread with foil. It is important to poke a few holes to allow steam to come out or the bread will rise and stick to the foil.
- Bake for around 45 minutes, then take the foil off and increase temperature to 425. Allow top and edges to brown and centre to completely set (approximately 15 minutes, but use the toothpick test!) If your oven is like mine and doesn’t cook evenly, then rotate the pan halfway through.
- Remove from oven. As tough as it is, you need to let it sit for 20 minutes to cool down or when you try to flip it out of the pan the weight of the bread will snap it in half. Patience! But after that, you’re good to go.
5. Sabrine Dhaliwal’s Sidecar
"Juke was built with a takeout window from the start, so we’re fortunate that we’re already set up for this and know how to do it well. We want to lift people’s spirits right now. You can’t come sit at the bar, so bring the bar home with your usual Juke takeout order. I’ve created non-alcoholic cocktail mixers, so all you have to do is add spirits and ice at home and give it a shake. We’re also doing an industry hour every Monday from 5 to 6 p.m. and the sales from that hour are donated to local hospitality charities.
"I was wondering which cocktail recipe to share, and this is one of my all-time favourites. It’s a classic and people love those... and it’s really easy too. People think you shouldn’t mix cognac, but you should! Go take a look at the back of the cupboard, I bet you have some cognac and some Cointreau or maybe Triple Sec or Grand Marnier. Pull them out and dust them off! This is bright, it’s refreshing and it’s just a lovely cocktail. The only problem? It disappears far too quickly!"
Hennessy Side Car
- 1½ oz Hennessy Very Special
- ½ oz Cointreau
- ¾ oz fresh lemon juice
Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake. Pour into a coupe and enjoy!
6. Chef Welbert Choi’s Chili
When I lived on Jervis Street, Forage was an extension of my front room. I love these guys and they are keeping the West End fed between 12 and 7 p.m. with ‘Forage at Home’ with meals starting at $5.
Chef Welbert Choi is constantly updating the menu with new items that are hearty, delicious, and budget-conscious. Everything on offer is designed to be very easy to reheat, providing nourishment for even the most inexperienced home cook.
“If I had ground bison, I’d make this super simple chili with it... it's so delicious, but you probably won’t be able to get that! So any meat will do—or you could leave out the meat and fish sauce, switch up the broth to veg stock and make it vegan."
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 2 tbsp garlic, minced
- 1 lb ground bison (or ground meat of choice)
- 5 tbsp chili powder
- 5 tbsp ground cumin
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 (15 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
- 1 (16 oz.) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce (or ketchup)
- Sweat onion, garlic and carrot in butter.
- Add ground bison and dried spices, cook for 5 minutes on medium heat.
- Add rest of the ingredients, except beans. Cook for 30 minutes on low.
- Add beans. Adjust seasoning to your liking. Cook for another 10 minutes on medium.
- Serve with sour cream, grated cheese, and green onion as garnish.
7. Chef Sean Reeve’s Legume Salad
Say Mercy! and The Mackenzie Room have launched the ‘staff meal’ initiative to feed their staff and try to feed other out-of-work restaurant workers too. “We put together a menu of healthy, affordable meals ranging from $5 to $10 with the option to add on a donated meal (which we call a suspended stew). Each order includes a $2 donation to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. We take orders from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and deliver out the back door of Say Mercy on the same day between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. We've been making items like lasagna, mac 'n' cheese, barbecue, bolognese and curries, led by chef Sean Reeve and chef Mathew Bishop.
Five other restaurants have joined, offering meals at the same price point with the ability to distribute donated meals (Dachi, Belgard Kitchen, Fable Kitchen, Pampanga's Cuisine, The Arbor).
“I wanted to focus on ingredients that you can always find that are healthy, full of protein, iron, folate and antioxidants to keep ourselves full and our immune system healthy. You can have a lot of fun with this recipe—mix it up with what you can find—whether it's different legumes, different fresh vegetables, different protein. You can have it warm or you can have it cold or repurpose it into a soup! Hope you enjoy.”
- 250 g can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 250 g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 250 g can Romano beans, rinsed and drained
- ½ red onion, small diced
- 1 cucumber, small diced
- 1 bulb fennel, small diced
- 1 bunch radishes, quartered or sliced
- 1 bunch spinach or arugula
- 1 bunch scallions, chopped
- 1 jalapeño, seeded, small diced
- 1 shallot, small diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 40 g dill, picked
- 40 g mint, torn
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp honey
- 50 ml apple cider vinegar
- 75 ml extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 454 g tofu, medium firm, seared (you can use whatever protein you want)
- 200 g ricotta
- 1 lime, zested
- Open, drain and rinse the legumes, shake off excess water and place in a bowl. Dice and prep all your vegetables and add to your bowl of legumes.
- To make the dressing, add all ingredients into a separate bowl, except olive oil.
- Whisk together, slowly adding oil to emulsify the vinaigrette. You could also use a blender, in that case just add all the ingredients to the blender and pulse until smooth.
- Pour vinaigrette over the salad and dress, allowing it to marinate.
- To garnish, slice tofu into strips and sear in a medium high pan with a little oil until it's caramelized.
- Next cut into cubes and add to the salad, finish with the ricotta on top with some fresh torn herbs and it's ready.