Category Archives: Uncategorized

Rise and Shine: Eggs and Avocado

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Still on the avocado trend–I’ve been eating them straight out of their shells for the past week, sprinkled with a little sugar. But this morning, I made eggs and toast and added a few slices of the buttery fruit.

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The Virtue of Sharing Food

Picture it:  Evening out with friends at a newly discovered eatery with plenty of character.  Days counting down to the big event, you do your research and see what reviewers are saying and recommending. You’ve looked over the online menu and have carefully decided what you want to order.

Finally. Saturday night.  You and your party have arrived. Seated and menu in hand. Then, your server proceeds to list the the evenings specials.  Instant dilemma.  The chef’s special–leg of lamb with Moroccan spice rub sounds wonderfully delicious.  Do you stand firm and order the Chilean sea bass or switch?

Your dining companions all order different dishes. You stick to your guns and order the sea bass.  Moments later, everyone’s dishes arrive and start eating in unison.  This is your chance to ask for a taste of the leg of lamb from your mate, who is siting adjacent to you, ordered. He pleasantly agrees and in turn, you willingly return the favor.

The idea of sharing was instilled in us ever since youth.  Sharing is a virtue, considered to be generous and thoughtful.  Share your toys. Share the space on the park bench. Share your food. Heck, Asians have practiced this for ages: family style dining.

Not only is sharing a great way to sample different dishes, but it helps with eating healthier portions and reduces food waste.  When you eat out, how often will you finish the entire plate of food? Yes, you may wipe your plate clean dining in higher end restaurants–but what about everyday chain restaurants? Portions are gigantic!  Yes, there is the option to take food home, but admit it, there are many times when leftovers are left in the fridge for days, uneaten and eventually discarded.

So, if you decide to eat out tonight, split a meal with someone.

Food Ninja and Portable Utensils

What is a food ninja, you ask? In the simplest form, a food ninja, is one who can stealthily sneak food from someone’s plate when they aren’t  looking. But, this is not me.  I’m just prepared. If you have food around, I make no qualms about munching on it.  If your food is unguarded, its a free for all.That’s why I carry my portable utensils around where ever I go.

I bought this set when I was in Vietnam for approximately $2.50.  The spoon served its purpose on those hungry Cambodian nights in my room when the fire was already exhausted. I had a water boiler and some instant oatmeal and my spoon. Oh, and a bowl.  Invest in one today.  Happy Sunday. I’m gonna go eat crepes.

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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A bit of tea and mystery

I was missing clotted cream and jam!

After watching Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, I was gifted with a volume of the complete Sherlock Holmes for Christmas.  I’ve never read the classic, but I’m hooked! And, following Holmes and Watson on their crime solving adventures put me in the mood for some tea and SCONES!

So, I did a little research on my own for a good scone recipe in Irma Rombauer’s, Joy of Cooking.  The ingredients were easy enough, but was I able to pull it off? Like pie crust, making scones requires ‘cutting in’ of butter.  This task seemed almost impossible without a fancy food processor. But with a little bit of ingenuity, I found my mini whisk to be the utmost of help!

Eggster: my loyal sidekick

I wanted a creamier scone, so I did modify the recipe a bit: instead of heavy cream I used sour cream and omitted the egg. I also splashed in a bit of pure vanilla. The result was a wonderfully scented, chocolate chip orange zest cream scone. Even though I omitted the egg and used sour cream, the scone came out of the oven moist, light and fluffy!

Ms. Rombauer’s recipe called for orange zest, which beautifully complements chocolate and smells wonderful.  I used 2 tablespoons.

grating the orange really woke me up! so fragrant

Chocolate Chip Orange Zest Cream Scones

yields 8 scones

2 cups of flour

1/3 cup of sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons of cold, unsalted butter cut into small cubes

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 1/4 cup sour cream

2 teaspoons pure vanilla

2 tablespoons orange zest

a bit or milk and cinnamon and sugar for the top

1.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

2.  Sift together flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.

3.  Make sure the butter is cold. Cut in the cubed pieces of butter into the dry ingredients.  I used my whisk and separated the pieces of butter into smaller pieces. I made sure to work quick so the butter didn’t melt and become a paste. Ideally, you want to coat the butter pieces with flour to resemble pea-sized pieces and the remainder of the flour to look like break crumbs.

4.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

5. Mix together the sour cream, vanilla and orange zest. This will smell wonderful!  Pour the sour cream mixture into the flour mixture and mix until the ingredients are moistened.

6.  With your hands now, gather the dough and press against the side of the bowl to form one round ball of dough. Don’t overwork this step. You don’t want the butter to melt.

7. Bring the ball of dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat down into a round piece about 3/4 inch thick.  Cut into 8 wedges and place each piece onto to the baking sheet at least 1/2  inch apart.

8.  Before baking, brush the tops of the scones with some milk and sprinkle on some cinnamon and sugar.

9. Put into the oven and bake until the tops are golden brown, about 12-15 minutes.  Let cool.

I think scones tastes best when eaten warm. So, if you bake these in the morning or the day before, warm it up in the toaster oven before serving.  Don’t forget the tea!

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Mt. Mega Loaf

My friend said it resembled half dome. Another called it a monster!

Let me start by telling you a story of sacrifice, sabotage and redemption.

Three years ago, I made meatloaf for my friends–all of whom are the manliest of men (unreliable source, highly disputed).  The day of,  I shopped for ingredients and since I was cooking at a friend’s house, I asked if they had Worcestershire sauce at their place. My friend, let’s call him ‘Paule’ was sure they had a bottle at the house and so I didn’t purchase any.

I got to their place and started to prep. I searched for the Worcestershire sauce high and low. No where to be found.  So, I asked ‘Paule’ and he said, I doubt anyone will notice if you leave out the Worcestershire sauce–eighty-six the ingredient.  ‘Are you sure?’ I asked.  ‘Yea, it’s just a couple of splashes.’ Unwillingly, I agreed.

An hour or so later, the meatloaf was done. It looked like meatloaf. It smelled tasty. Nice and meaty. Moist. I was 95% confident with what I had produced. So,  I sliced up the meatloaf and served it to my friends.  As they ate, I watched their facial expressions. Nothing. I waited for their reaction and finally asked “Well, what do you think? Any suggestions for improvement?”  My other friend, let’s call him ‘Hope’ said, “its missing something…Worcestershire sauce….yea, that’s it.”

After his comment, all I saw was RED. I can’t remember anything else.

Fast forward to December 2011–that’s how I came to create the monster of all meatloaves–a 5-lb turkey loaf that will certainly impress! Try out this recipe and conquer dinner tonight. Great for leftovers!

5 lbs of ground turkey

4 teaspoons of tomato paste

2 teaspoons of paprika

3/4 cup of chicken broth

1/3 cup of Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup fresh thyme

1/2 cup of fresh parsley, chopped

2 large yellow onions, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups of seasoned bread crumbs

3 large eggs, beaten

S&P

Olive oil

ketchup

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2.  In a medium sized pot, cook down the onions with S&P, olive oil, thyme, parsley, paprika and garlic. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth and Worcestershire sauce. Cook the mixture until the onions are translucent and the liquid has thickened. Allow the fragrance of the onion mixture to permeate your nostrils. It smells wonderful.

3.  Allow the onion mixture to cool. Then, in a large bowl, combine the ground turkey, bread crumbs, eggs and onion mixture and add some more S&P.

4.  On a baking sheet, hand shape the combined ingredients into a rectangular shape. Once this is done, spread a thin, even layer of ketchup over the top of the uncooked loaf.

5.  Put in the oven and cook for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Insert a meat thermometer into the center of the loaf. When the internal temperature reaches 16o degrees, the turkey loaf is ready.

This recipe was adapted from a turkey meatloaf recipe by Ina Garten of Food Network. Thanks!

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Gotta Love it Basil Salad

Basil’s refreshing taste and lovely aroma is prominently featured in this recipe, as it is the star ingredient. Yup, you heard me–no romaine, no spinach, no arugula.  BASIL!

Pretty simple actually. The ingredients are pictured above.

8-10 ounces of fresh basil leaves

1 cup mini heirloom tomatoes, halved

half a red onion, thinly sliced

3 cups of cubed rosemary bread or plain baguette

1 cup of crumbled feta cheese

olive oil

balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper

serves 5 people

  1. Wash and pat dry the basil leaves. No stem.  Roughly chop the leaves.
  2. I  like to toast my bread for a few minutes in the oven but day old bread works too.
  3. Add all the ingredients together. Mix and toss well with balsamic and olive oil. Season with S&P, according to taste.

And, here is the completed salad. Looks like the ingredients except in a bowl. Everyone who I have served this too absolutely loves it. I hope you enjoy it too!

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