Monthly Archives: January 2012

Chinese Comfort Food and Jen&Wilson’s New Home

Hi. Its been a while since I’ve posted. Apologies.  I’m visiting my good friends Jen and Wilson in their new home.  They moved in only 14 days ago and tonight was the first night they prepared chinese food for dinner.

The classic tomato, beef and egg dish is made by Chinese mamas all over. Every mom has her own recipe and its almost impossible to learn from a mom because they usually just throw in and estimate seasonings based on taste and experience.  The dish consists of chunks of tomato and beef and a sweet/savoury sauce produced by cooking down the juices of the tomato.  It’s super easy to prepare and perfect with a warm bowl of rice. And, tonight, Wilson made some classic tomato and beef, sans egg, but still quite delish!

Tomato and Beef Recipe (serves 6-7)

3 beef steak tomatoes

clove of small garlic, minced

5 slices of fresh ginger

yellow onion

1-lb flank steak

Marinade for Beef (20 mins, longer the better)

teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon white pepper

5 tablespoons soy sauce

3 tablespoons oyster sauce

corn starch teaspoon

healthy splash of hennessey

splash of pure sesame oil

1.  Wilson marinated the beef for 20 minutes today. But, the longer the better.

2. Blanche tomatoes. When you cut up the tomatoes, its important to use a good, sharp knife. You don’t want to lose the juice of the tomato because its essential to the sauce creation. Put aside.

2.  Heat the pan on medium heat, oil and throw in onions, cook down until transparent.  Throw in the garlic and ginger.  When the garlic and ginger are cooked, throw in the meat. But, turn the heat up to high and sear the meat on the sides. Then, throw in the tomatoes and let sit until it becomes tender.   Stir in some more soy sauce, oyster sauce and a teaspoon of sugar. Careful don’t break the tomatoes.   Plate and serve over a bed of rice.

Alternately, you can add some scrambled eggs into the sauce. SOOO GOOD.

What’s your favorite comfort food?

Sorry, some of my photos aren’t so sharp due to lack of light. I normally prefer to shoot during the morning, when the light is the softest.

Almond scones

almond biscuit, muscle whipped creme and blackberries

I’m at a friend’s place and she has no hand mixer. Again, I was planning on baking thumbprint cookies but she has no hand mixer to cream the butter. Who doesn’t own a hand mixer?!? So, I just made scones again, which required no special equipment.

I took out a few ingredients from the other recipe:  I didn’t use orange zest and chocolate chips (I am in a purist mood today). Instead of using vanilla, I used 2 teaspoons of almond extract, which gave the scones a pleasant fragrance and subtle flavor. And, I felt like making round scones, so I used a glass to cut the dough.

Taste Off

What do two Korean-Americans know about lasagna? I dunno either but the other night, Julie K. and her older brother went head to head in a competitive, exclusive cook off, which I was cordially invited to participate and help determine the “best lasagna”.

The night was eventful as we watched jeopardy and wheel of fortune waiting for the lasagna to be ready.  There were even moments during the cooking competition where the cooks came and played along to wheel of fortune.

The highlight of the evening, however, occurred when the night was almost ruined by an accidental overheating of the oven caused by burning cheese. High levels of smoke spat out of the oven when its doors were opened.  Luckily, the kitchen was not equipped with smoke detectors. No one was harmed during the competition. ‘Accidental’ is what the two cooks called it, but it more in lines with sabotage if you had tasted these lasagnas.

For the contest results, continue reading the post below.

The Contenders Profiles

Don't let the shirt and gloves fool you, he's no doctor!

Name:  Julie’s Older Brother

Favorite Fruit: Golden Kiwi

Pet Peeve:  People who’s jaw clicks when they eat

Least Favorite Food:  Lasagna

Shoe Size: UK Men size 3

Life Goal:  To climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with only one canister of oxygen.

Eating protein

Name:  Julie

Favorite Color:   Vermillion

Occupation: Graphic Artist

Favorite Book:   Anything by Danielle Steel

Favorite Past time:  Thrift store shopping

Spouse: David K. aka “Bone Crusher”

The Judges Profiles

Name:  Bone Crusher AKA Julie’s Husband

Political Affiliation: socialist

On his right to vote:   “I am abstaining.  I don’t want to sleep on the couch tonight.”

Name:  Jon

Claim to fame: Resident sommelier

Suggestions to the cooks: Lasagna shouldn’t be spicy and the broccoli was undercooked.

Sun

Name:  Mr. Sun, Math Teacher

Found the two dishes to be extremely soggy and spent the evening calculating the sauce to cheese to lasagna ratio.

Me and Pomegrante

Name:  Diana

Favorite activity: Watching Golden Girls on dvd

Favorite moment of the night: eating dessert

Name:  Mother to Julie and Julie’s Brother (not pictured)

Quote of the night: “Should’ve saved the time and money and purchased the Stouffer’s $9.99 lasagna.”

The judges chose to score the lasagnas based on the following criteria:  taste, texture, creativity, presentation and best overall.  Each criteria was out of ten points, even best overall…???

It was a close race. With a point value of 250 maximum, each contestant was awarded with 169/250.  TIE!  No one could believe it and blamed me for miscalculating. Why didn’t the math teacher add up the points then? So, the judges decided on omitting the electoral vote and using the popular vote method instead. Even with Bone Crusher abstaining from exercising his democratic freedom, 3 of 5 votes elected Julie to have the better tasting lasagna.  Here is the photo of the winning lasagna and of the winner.

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Not in the mood for brownies…

…so I baked some blueberry cream bites. Yea, I know right ‘not in the mood’ is unheard of…

But, I was anxious to try out an individual mini brownie silicon mold that was given to me for the holidays.

So, instead of using the mold for its intended purpose, I chose to bake something lighter.The recipe actually makes 12 regular sized muffins, but I diverted from this plan and made 24 mini bites and poured the remaining batter into a 9-inch round pan.  Does miniaturizing something automatically increase its likeability factor? I pose this question because the mini bite-sized muffins came out really cute. I also found them more enjoyable and easier to eat than a regular sized muffin.

I like my muffins to have a little more of a light golden complexion–I should’ve left the muffins to bake a little longer, but I was afraid of burning them. Also, these muffins aren’t overly sweet. For a sweeter muffin, you can add 1/4 or 1/3 cup more sugar OR sprinkle sugar on top of the batter before baking.

Enough jabber. Recipe now—

2 cups of flour

1 cup of sour cream

1 stick of unsalted butter, softened

1 cup of sugar

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup of frozen blueberries

zest of 1 lemon

makes 12 regular sized muffins

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan.

2. Cream together sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla, sour cream and lemon zest.

3. Sift flour, salt and baking soda into the liquid mixture. Mix together. the batter will be thick.  Finally, fold in the blueberries by hand.

4. Scoop mixture into the prepared muffin pan.  Bake for about 18-20 minutes until lightly golden.

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Lemon and Potatoes

Over the weekend, I had dinner with a girlfriend at a Lebanese restaurant.  We shared a good sized order of their popular fried potatoes. They were seasoned with cilantro and lemon juice and tasted PRIMO! I never imagined lemon to go well with potatoes, but HEY–that is why I’m learning how to cook!

So, I’m at home trying to recreate the flavors that happily danced on my tongue. And, once again this recipe requires only a few ingredients—

potatoes, cilantro, garlic and lemon

1.  Chop up the cilantro and mince garlic.

2.Wash, peel and cube up the potatoes. I used 2 small-medium sized potatoes. This should serve 2-3 as a small side/appetizer dish.

3.  Heat up olive oil in a skillet. I threw garlic in the oil at the beginning of cooking, but I think next time, I will add the garlic once the potatoes are nearly done.

4. Brown the sides of the potatoes and cook until tender. Salt and pepper the potatoes. Also, sprinkle a little cayenne pepper. Cook time should be about 10-12 minutes. Add the minced garlic when the potatoes are nearly cooked.

5. Turn off heat. Throw in the chopped cilantro and squeeze lemon juice on to the cooked potatoes. I used the juice of half a lemon, but I think I will use a little more next time. I will also add more cilantro.  Toss and coat the potatoes. Serve hot.

easy and delicious

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