Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pork Rack, video coming soon!

Roast Pork Rack, Parsnip Puree, Beets, and bacon golden delicious reduction. Video Coming Soon!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Linguine with Tomato, Mozzarella, Sausage, Peas, and Garbanzo Beans.


Salmon and warm bok choy and carrot slaw with sesame soy vinaigrette.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

15 Minute Meals: Tomato Soup and Sandwich

Michael (my roommate for the last 4 years) came home today wanting tomato soup. I wasn't intending on cooking anything for dinner (it felt like a "turkey sandwich for dinner" day), but it then dawned on me that I have never made a tomato soup. I know I have the theory to make the soup but I have not experienced the practice. So here it is, my first attempt at tomato soup from scratch, with pantry staples. Done in roughly 15 minutes.

First, you'll need a 28oz can of tomatoes, preferably San Marzano variety (or any high quality canned tomato... or fresh tomatoes if they are in season.) I chopped up two fresh heirlooms and added it to the soup. Fresh tomatoes add a denser texture to the soup which helps to give some life to the soup. It might be nice to peel the tomatoes, but I was lazy.

Add all the tomatoes to a pot and simmer. I added in about 5 cloves of garlic, herbs de provence, dry vermouth, and cognac. Then grab yourself some Parmesan, the rind (the outer edge) of the cheese works great for adding some body, taste, and creaminess to the soup. I added about 3 thumb sized pieces, but add to taste.

Basically all you're doing is adding a bunch of ingredients into a pot and letting it simmer.

I finished with a knob of butter, but olive oil would be nice too (or nothing at all).

Ladle into bowls, garnish with whatever (I had a few leftover onions from the sandwiches and some parsley so I used that...of course basil would be nice, or some crab if you happen to have crab laying around...) You could add a drizzle of olive oil if you wanted to make it really nice. I didn't.

Sandwich is just a normal turkey, cheddar, and onion sandwich on Focaccia. Baked in the oven.

And that's it. 15 minute meal. Rachel Ray eat your heart out!
Overall the soup was pretty nice. It would have been better if I had shopped with tomato soup in mind, but alas I don't really shop with anything in mind. This soup was made with pantry staples for about $3.50-$4.00 for 4-5 servings. Not too bad.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Learning to Thai my shoes. Part 1

Thai food is weird to me. It's weird because its not what you normal think of when you think of asian food (unless you are, in fact, Thai). It also blends a ton of flavors, from South-East Asian countries and the middle east. I also eat Thai food maybe...6 times a year? (at a restaurant) And I'm pretty sure I just get pad thai half the time. However, although I am inexperienced on the subject, I do think I understand the flavors. I am after all Thai is right up my alley. Here I chronicle my take on Thai.

I want soup. It finally feels like autumn so I know I want a few things: turkey, sage, winter warmers, butternut squash, and soup. Here is my take on chicken noodle soup, Thai inspired.
The stock is made from a whole chicken, chicken broth, ginger, star anise, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, onions, whole white peppercorns, and parsley stems. Boil for about an hour, strain off everything. Shred the chicken and reserve. Bring the stock back to a boil and add in a can of coconut milk. I used Pho noodles here. I also wanted some freshness and color so I made a quick salad with cilantro, fresno chilies, and green onions. I filled the bowls with noodles, topped with shredded chicken (dressed with salt, pepper, sherry vinegar, and sesame oil), poured the soup over and topped with the salad.

Came out pretty well. Those fried shallots that they sell at the asian store would go really go with this. I think making this with duck would be great. The noodles worked pretty well. All in all a satisfying soup.

Thanks for reading.

Gravlax 1 (Scandinavia via Moraga)

So I decided to make gravlax (aka gravad lax, aka gravlaks). Kinda on a whim kinda because I've wanted to for the longest time. Gravlax is cured fish, usually salmon. Traditionally there are only four ingredients (like Beer! and Bread!) those ingredients are fish, salt, sugar, and dill. For my first attempt I followed that recipe using equal ratios of salt and sugar. Basically... you apply the sugar and salt liberally, cover in dill, make a sandwich with the two pieces and let cure for 24-72 hours (I did 36). I also weighted mine down with a can of beans.
I think my results weren't too bad, but just to have full disclosure...I've only had gravlax maybe once or twice in my life...and my memory is fuzzy about those events. Overlooking that minor detail I think it came out well. I probably should use higher quality salmon (wild and sockeye preferably) but I couldn't find any. I think the 50/50 solution works fine, I might try tinkering with different salts and sugars (maybe smoked salt and raw sugar). I'd also like to add pepper to it. But all in all...not bad. I served it sliced with pita chips, quick cucumbers, and a mustard dill sauce.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Jon. My dear friend who's currently living and studying in LA. I would have to say he's probably contributed about 75% of the views of my blog (through his own views and recommendations on his tumblr). Well, Jon, I am sorry for my lack of posting, I could offer all the generic blog excuses (crazy midterms, swamped at work, laziness, etc) but I won't. Instead I offer you this meager, simple dish.

A frittata is basically a Spanish Baked Omelet. What this translates too is really EASY way to stretch eggs, some meat, and a few vegetables. This was probably the first dish I can remember of being proud to serve people (maybe 9 or 10 years ago? I miss being a kid). I am only going to discuss the method here because I don't remember the exact ingredients (anything goes really). This is the kind of meal that's perfect for entertaining guest for breakfast on the fly.

  1. Preheat the broiler to 500. Grab yourself an oven safe pan (although honestly, since this won't be in the oven for terrible long, any saute pan will probably work). Cook up some meat and vegetables, as much as you want, but I don't like to overload the pan (so enough to cover the bottom). Here I sauteed some breakfast sausage with red bell peppers, onions, shimeji and enoki mushrooms (season with salt and pepper, I also like some paprika). Make sure the saute is relatively dry otherwise the Frittata will be to wet.
  2. Eggs. You can really stretch your eggs here. Since they're supposed to be fluffy you can add more milk or water than normal. I like to add some flour to my eggs as I think this helps with creating a creamy texture (I add about 1 tablespoon of flour to every 3 eggs). I also like to add some shredded Parmesan here, as much as you want.
  3. Add the eggs to the pan and cook over the stove until the bottom is lightly set.
  4. Stick the pan in the oven and broil till top is almost set. Remove from oven and sprinkle with some Parmesan. Place back into oven until nicely browned. Serve warm or room temperature (honestly this is pretty good cold too.)

I guarantee that once you get this method down, you will be making this often without fail. It's easy, tasty, and feeds a ton of people. Its also something to let your creative side roam around with in a relatively fool proof way.

As always,
Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I found these on my memory card.

Red Snapper with lemon, green onion, and red chili

Grilled Shrimp with Chili Honey Glaze and Miso dipping sauce

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Roll one up, Homie.

I am not one to go crazy for egg rolls. Actually, I don't care for most rolled things... burritos are okay...but I'd rather eat everything separately...sushi rolls are cool....but I'd rather have nigiri...and a roulade is nice looking... but I don't think it's the optimal way to prepare the ingredients. Yes, I am not a roll fanatic.

However, every rule has its exception. And this egg roll is it. It's my mom's "recipe" (I use that loosely because there is not actual recipe but rather a...philosophy of egg rollingology). And I could say how this recipe has been passed down from generation to generation of Vietnamese families, how my mom fled the country with $20 and this recipe written on a banana leaf, how we have killed many to keep this recipe safe. But I would be lying. Truth is, this recipe has been constantly modified and tweaked since my mom started making them (I like to think I had some input, but I can never be sure of these things). This "recipe" is a constantly evolving animal seeking change and innovation.

Its always about the philosophy. I propose the perfect egg roll. Not mushy or wet like cheap Chinese takeout. Nor so hard and crunchy that they tear up your tonsils. There should be a perfect layer of fried outside to moist inside. Not too big, not too small. These are rules we can all live by.

So let's assemble the ingredients. You got your veggies, and you got your protein. This time we used about 6 cups julienne taro, 1-2 cups woodear mushrooms (an asian variety, found dried) and 3 cups green cabbage. The protein consists of 2.5 lbs ground pork, 2 lbs shrimp, and 4 cups cubed tofu. These measurements are approximate. This recipe makes a lot but they keep well in the freezer. But if you want to scale the recipe down, its about 50/50 veggies to protein (these are great made with just tofu for a vegetarian alternative).

Bind everything together with 2 whole eggs and season with salt, pepper, fish sauce, and garlic powder. Mix until incorporated.

Now to roll. We tend to use Menlo brand wrappers, but your favorite wrapper (or better yet, the one that is on sale) will work. We seal the wrappers with milk or egg or a mix of both (depending on mood really...).
Start with a wrapper.

Put about...this much filling.

Roll 1/3 the way up, fold in the left and right corners and then fold all the way, seal the edge with the milk/egg mixture.

Stack up a bunch to make a cool picture.

Wrap the rolls in pyramid shapes. Egg rolls freeze amazingly. In fact, most of the time we don't eat the egg rolls right away. Rather we are anticipating that there might be some uncontrollable midnight craving for egg rolls one night...and we want to be prepared. This recipe makes about 90 rolls. What to do with a freezer full of egg rolls? Bring them to parties (people will love you). Make dinner for your family/friends/roommates by frying them up and serving with some rice noodles, cucumbers, chopped peanuts, bean sprouts, lettuce, and fish sauce vinaigrette. with a freezer full of egg rolls.

My favorite sauce for this is fish sauce vinaigrette (Nước mắm pha) is basically one part lime juice, one part fish sauce, one part sugar, and two parts water (we like to add minced garlic and thai chilies). This ubiquitous Vietnamese sauce is served on everything from rice noodles, to grilled pork. If you have a jar of this on hand... you will never go hungry.

BUT, we got lazy. And our provisions of Nước mắm pha were all used up. So we used sweet chili sauce (GASP! A premade product!?). Yes, its premade. Not it taste good. Really. We mix it with some vinegar to give it some acidic bite. But really, any egg roll sauce will do (or plain, that's good too).

This recipe is a lesson on change. My mom's egg rolls were good before, and we just could have easily stuck to them. But we didn't. And here we are. With the BEST egg rolls. Ever.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Figs, Figs, and Figs! (Guesstibaking)

So we have a fig tree. A big one.

Photo:Proof of fig tree ownership

So we have a lot of figs. My mom doesn't really eat she ASSUMES that everybody in the house dislikes them too. Which is wrong. I love figs. So this year I convinced my mom too keep a few for the house before giving them all away. But too much of a good thing is...well too much.

So I went on an internet journey to find fig recipes. I was really interested in doing a bread since figs and bananas, although share nothing in common on the surface, do have a sort of slimy/mushy consistency. I typed "fig bread recipe" into google, and BAM! tons of recipes. I finally found one I liked. However, it required 3 eggs and I had only 2. It needed buttermilk which I didn't have. It called for plain white sugar but I was hell bent on using honey (figs and honey, its biblical). So here is where I start improving. And the first rule of improv is "Say Yes" (alternatively, don't deny). So I said yes.

First lets get the easy stuff out of the way. Grease and batter bread pans. I used one big pan since we don't have smaller ones, but this "recipe" makes enough for about 2 loaves. Oh, and chop up some walnuts while you're there.

Here's what we will refer to as "The Goop". The Goop consists of 2 cups of fresh fig meat (here mission figs), 1.5 cups of honey, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup oil of your choice. I think that's it. It should look disgusting at this point. (mmhmm egg, oily, sweet fig goop.)

Dry stuff. 3.5 cups of flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon.

Now you make the batter. This is where it gets kind of tricky (for me). If you don't have buttermilk you can make your own by mixing a tablespoon of vinegar with plain milk and letting it sit for ten minutes. If you don't use this substitute the pH will be wrong and the reaction with the baking soda not take place. In addition the substitution of honey for sugar requires less liquid overall since honey is part liquid. The original recipe called for .5 cups of buttermilk...and I eyeballed it, so its about .4 cups of buttermilk substitute.

Baked at 350 for about 45 minutes. I had to drop the heat to about 300 after 20 minutes since it was browning to fast (stupid big pan).

I still had about... well lets just say I still had a lot of figs. So I made some basic fig jam. Its about
1.5 cups of figs with .5 cup splenda and enough pectin to make it thick. Cook on low until desired texture is achieved.

I also made some pancakes with the leftover batter, which turned out fantastic. Served with a little shaved butter. Would be great if I made some type of fig syrup. But, alas, I didn't.

The finished bread. Bread will taste best about 24 hours after its been baked (wrapped in plastic wrap), the texture seems to firm up and retain moisture better.

The finished bread all gussied up. The left has some jam and the right has cream cheese mixed with the jam (sounds strange, but just think of cream cheese frosting on carrot cake...).

Lessons Learned: I don't (Currently) posses the restraint to be a good pastry cook. I enjoy the power of yeast, but as for normal pastries I still can't follow a recipe (probably because I gotta make everything Thomasafied). However, that being said, I still think I did a passing job here. And I did make a dent (a very, very small dent) in my fig arsenal.

So... Who wants some figs?

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pork legs for all you chick(pea)s.

Two posts in one day?! Let's just say I felt generous for ya'll. No, oh no need to thank me. I'm just trying to become the responsible blogger I've always dreamt/dreamed (yup, I googled, turns out the words are the SAME, Brits use dreamt, oh the Brits.) Anyways, here's what I cooked today.

I got home from work. Halfheartedly hoping for dinner, but I knew deep down that we would be eating protein powder sprinkled on Crunch Berries if I didn't cook something.

I made pork. Pork leg to be exact. I bought it on Sunday to smoke, but realized it was too much food so I put it in the fridge for another day. I've never actually cooked it myself, but it looked good, and that skin would make a fine cracklin'. I rubbed the meat simply with red pepper flakes, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. I wanted something to cook the meat on so I rummaged the pantry. I came up with a couple cans of chickpeas, rinsed and put into the pan with some red onion, orange peel, red pepper, and lemons. I roasted the whole thing at 375 for about 45min to 1.25 hours. (Honestly I lost track of time...)

Wanted a little extra moisture and something to add to the crust so I made a quick glaze of orange zest, orange juice, about an inch of fresh ginger, star anise, red chili, soy, mirin (rice vinegar), and honey.

Vegetables 'cuz we healthy. Sauteed zucchs (zucchinis, I ain't got time to say the whole word) with some of the extra glaze tossed in, a squeeze of lemon, and parsley.

Finished product out of the oven, wish I had taken a shot of it still in the pan... but you can imagine that.

Yeah, of course you would go for the one with the most skin.

Oh, crispy, crispy, skin.
Thanks for reading.
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