Monday, September 6, 2010
Recently I discovered that "mandu" is the Korean word for dumpling. In Japanese perhaps you would say I am a "gyoza otaku" or liberally translated: "dumpling eating fiend." Perhaps my last name means the same thing in Korean? These are my first attempt at making the greatest type of dumplings I have yet to encounter, the xiao long bao or Shanghai Soup Dumpling. Inside is a delicious pork filling and piping hot soup - you bite into these over a spoon just in case you spill some soup. This picture is of one on my better ones... ignore the one in the background that burst while steaming and spilled its precious broth everywhere. What a shame!
Sunday, August 8, 2010
The menu for this brunch was a response to a particular challenge. One guest had a a doctor's warning against eating hot foods. So instead of postponing brunch, we set out to make an equally scrumptious brunch with only cold components. For the salad, the blackberry-walnut salad was a reprise. We had two soups, a gazpacho and a cantaloupe chilled fruit soup for the fruit component. Deviled eggs, homemade wheat bread, and a selection of cold cuts (smoked turkey, prosciutto, a taste of the boccalone orange fennel sausage, and smoked gouda). The blueberry muffins did not even make the picture. Needless to say, we were stuffed.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
I love that blackberries are wild and pop up around the DC area. There are a few bushes not far from our apartment... though there are usually only enough for a passing snack and not to pick and take home. These are big ones from a pick your own farm and they are delicious. Candied walnuts are great - I remember the smell of them in Downtown Crossing in the freezing Boston winter, but they do almost as well in a summer setting and give a satisfying sweet crunch. The recipe is a strange one, but good for light summer dinners and eating up your delicious blackberries in a way that is not pie. That is not to say I could ever have enough blackberry pie, but one must have consideration for others who must dine in the same household.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Look no further than the back of the box for this recipe, and if you have the time do the one that uses the beaten egg whites. The strawberries and Trader Joe's waffle cookies are good complements to the vanilla-y awesomeness that this king of puddings manifests.
Monday, July 26, 2010
This recipe comes from Saveur Magazine - a magazine I wholeheartedly recommend for pictures and inspiration, but decidedly not for the recipes. On occasion, though, I do try them out. I tried these tacos to try a chicken-cooking technique I had not tried before. Basically you boil a whole chicken, shred it, and then fry it to get the crispy edges. Unfortunately I didn't get the required heat in the pan, and all the juices that are saved through boiling the chicken cooked right out of the meat when it went in the pan. I think with more heat and hotter oil I could do a much better job next time. They were still tasty.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Hot summer days are great for making a meal out of a tasty salad, but unfortunately all my salads start to look the same after a while. Enter some creative inspiration from local salad joint menus like Chop't and Sweetgreen. Sweetgreen especially has some really interesting combination ideas. This is the Bondi from their menu, you can find it here. The killer ingredient here are the wasabi peas with a crunchiness that does not wilt and a bit of a cleansing spicy kick!
Baby Spinach and Mesclun.
Hearts of Palm. (Trader Joe's good for these.)
Add chicken if you want.
Whip up some dressing with sesame oil base. I would have loved to try the miso but we didn't have any on hand. You could experiment with tahini or peanut butter.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Fresh green beans lightly sauteed in olive oil.
A taste of cured orange fennel salami.
Equals open-faced summer sandwiches.
Summertime is when you can look around your kitchen and make something simple in a few minutes out of what you have foraged from the grocery store or farm stands. The salami is amazing and came from our foraging expedition to San Francisco. you can order online from Boccalone's online store. We tried this one and the Nduja, which are both incredible. If you sample any others, let me know.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Recently, Emily and I have been on a quest for really simple and fast meals. We're trying to eat earlier during the week, and with my bus-riding ways, this means we have to simplify a lot of the time. But tastiness cannot be sacrificed! Here's a neat little adult mac 'n' cheese that turned out yummy and quick. Asparagus season is probably past by now, but other greens can be substituted. The goat cheese we used was you typical pyramid of Chavrie, which worked out well. A stronger cheese would have been good too.
Monday, May 24, 2010
By now you are on the verge of missing strawberry season! Don't let such a thing happen - go pick some really ripe local ones from a farm near you. You can make the most classic (and arguably the best) of all smoothies every morning for breakfast and still have plenty left over for noshing and pie. My recipe is simple. Cut up one or two bananas and all the strawberries that will fit in our blender. Freeze it for about 15 minutes, then fill up the blender. Pour a cup of plain yogurt in, and pour in enough milk to get the blender to do it's work, maybe half to a full cup. If the strawberries are tart, add a pinch of sugar. Add a dash of salt. Blend.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Remember 3 bean salad? It's a classic American salad - maybe it's out of style, but it's a great idea. Healthy, filling but light, tasty salad great for hot days or outdoor picnics. Making your own make it taste fresher and more crisp, but is still easy. Use canned chick peas, and canned kidneys. Steam some green beans until just done - still bright green and crisp. Then mix it all together with your favorite vinaigrette dressing. Don't forget salt and pepper, maybe a mustard or some herbs. I like to make a more vinegary dressing than with a conventional salad because the beans soak up the flavors. Eat with crusty bread.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
How many of you think that this recipe would be better off without the pretentiousness of sea salt being added to the name? Maybe just Lemon Salt Focaccia, or Lemon Focaccia since there is always salt on focaccia anyway? Normally I can't stand that kind of thing, but this recipe merits whatever devices can be employed to lure you into trying the recipe because it's good. The recipe is here. Eat it all hot out of the oven.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
This is about what you can do with leftovers from a roast - in this case the lamb roast from a few posts back. This was great quality lamb, not to go to waste or be buried under sauce. And asparagus was in season (and happened to be available in the fridge.) This little improv showcases some of the techniques Cook's Illustrated magazine likes to tout, so I credit them for the recipe.
First I cut up the lamb and sauteed it over really high heat for about 2 minutes to get a little brown and just warm up the meat. Meanwhile, the asparagus steamed in a a pot for just a few minutes - so it is bright green and still has bite. Cook the linguine al dente. When the lamb is done, deglaze with some chicken stock. Mix in some pureed canned tomatoes, leftover juice from the can, or maybe just diced tomatoes straight from the can. Scrape up all the brown bits and reduce over high heat for a couple minutes. Then taste, season, turn heat to low, and stir in about 2 tablespoons of cream. Pour the sauce over the linguine, mix with lamb and asparagus and serve. Don't worry too much about proportions - just do what looks right, and taste as you go. The idea is a very light cream sauce, so if there's one thing not to go overboard on, that would be it.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
We had one cut remaining in our freezer from the large gift of venison we got last winter. It is such a nice, lean cut of meat that I couldn't stand to do anything but roast it nicely. And that's what I did. Doing some research, I discovered that the target temperature is right around 140 degrees. So the technique was to season it, brown all sides in the pan over high heat, and then transfer to the oven until the temp reached 140. I think this took about 15-20 minutes. The veggies: carrots, onions, and celery, roughly chopped got a basic seasoning and olive oil and roasted in the pan with the tenderloin. They take a bit longer so I started them before the meat. The kicker with this combo is the cranberry relish. After looking in the Silver Spoon cookbook and discovering that cranberries were a natural pairing for venison, I decided that a normal Thanksgiving style cooked cranberry sauce was not going to be quite right. Instead, we chose this recipe from Martha, which uses raw cranberries, along with orange and pineapple. This one we will be making again - it is bright-sweet-tart and refreshing up against venison. Keep this in mind.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Who could have thunk it? Chocolate bread pudding emerges from freezer week? Well, yes. A few slices of Emily's last batch of "quick brioche" were still in the freezer. Just enough for two ramekin sized portions of bread pudding. Let me tell you, these are rich and deeply chocolatey...probably because we used all very dark chocolate, and none of that milk so-called "chocolate." Find the recipe here. Bread pudding fans will enjoy this, but it's not the highest form of the art. This scores more in the chocolate column of desserts, than in the bread pudding column. Still delicious.
Monday, May 3, 2010
Freezer week continues. Tacos remain on my list of go-to improv recipes for a tasty dinner our of whatever's in the fridge. In this case: some chicken thighs that have been in the freezer almost too long. I chopped them very small and browned them in the pan on one side until they had almost crispy edges. Then a quick scrape of the pan and you can mix in your taco spices. I generally have some sort of tomato juice leftover in the fridge from a can of tomatoes. I like oregano, chilies, cumin, hot sauce, salt and pepper. I find most chile powders taste dull and I avoid them in favor of a good hot sauce. Put a little chicken on a warmed corn tortilla, with a lot of fresh lettuce and tomato on top.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
I picked up an Indian cookbook in London a year and a half ago. It's called 50 Great Curries of India by Camellia Panjabi. I didn't need to go to London, you can get it on Amazon for 10 bucks. The curry in this recipe comes from one of her "research" trips to Chennai (aka Madras). Think coconut, curry leaves, and tamarind in kind of a tomato base. I've used it on fish, which is great, but here I put in on pan-seared shrimp from the Maine St market. More than this particular recipe, however, I have enjoyed this book. It is very heavy on meat dishes, most of which I haven't attempted, but it has proven helpful on the basics and the simple vegetables. If only I can find a convenient place to buy the fresh curry leaves I need.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Back last summer, we did a peach-freezing experiment. According to Cook's Illustrated, the best way to keep peaches is to slice them, and mix with a little sugar and some "fruit fresh" (ascorbic acid), then bag and freeze. Blackberries, which were amazing last year, are best frozen individually spread out on a tray and then bagged once frozen. We finally decided to use them and those techniques worked out great. The peaches smelled like late summer. Emily then worked her pie-making magic on what has got to be the best fruit pie combination ever conceived. Even better than strawberry-rhubarb or blueberry-cranberry.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
A strange winter has given way to a strange spring, one that has left me unsure of how to react. One way is to make a spring lamb. This leg of lamb comes by way of friends at a Virgina farm, and such a nice gift of top quality lamb needed to be passed on and shared - so we had some invited guests.
I chose a Jaime Oliver recipe to make - a weeping boneless roast leg of lamb done in a yogurt-mint marinade. I started with the whole hind quarter and spent a good half hour or so breaking it down and cleaning it up, trying not to waste the slightest bit. Then it went in with the marinade and sat in the fridge for a full day before it was ready to roast. With some ad hoc meat-tying technique the whole thing stayed together and was cooked medium rare on top of a mix of roast winter vegetables. You absolutely don't want to over cook lamb, especially when you will have leftovers to reheat. I stabbed the roast in about ten places to make sure we were somewhere close to 135 degrees all around before declaring it done.
It was absolutely delicious. You can find the recipe here.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
In my world, dumplings are king. Martha Stewart even confesses to having these as one of her favorite foods. I made these from her recipe, which she recently published since they are meatless and therefore good for lent. But really, any sort of dumpling recipe is going to attract my attention.
I made two kinds of pierogi: potato and cabbage, and I stuck with the brown butter sauce, using as little as possible, but just enough for flavor. As with any dumpling, they take a lot of time to roll, stuff, fill, and cook, but in my mind it is quite worth it. The cabbage ones won out for flavor in the end. Martha has you use a grinder to process the cabbage, but since I don't have one of those, I had to grate and chop, which left some of the leafy consistency intact. I have heard that others eat these with our cream and sauerkraut. As for me, I was trying to replicate some of the great pierogi I had at my friend Chris's wedding in New Jersey. If I will ever get there I think I might need to do some additional field research.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Here are the results of stage one of building a good ramen broth - something that advances well beyond the chicken broth stage. Guided by David Chang's Momofuku cookbook, I tried a few key elements. I started with the cooking liquid created when rehydrating dried shitake mushrooms. Second, I added some chunks of onion, and finally briefly infused the broth with katsuo-bushi, or dried bonito flakes. The bonito really gives it more of a smoky quality than any kind of fishy taste. At this stage, I had a very flavorful broth, but not a very colorful soup. But I was hungry so I added noodles and ate it all. Other elements, like konbu and pork, will have to wait for Study No. 2.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
- Tomatillo-Poblano-Cheddar Scrambled eggs on Home Made English Muffins
- Tomato, Hearts of Palm, and Mixed Green Salad with Orange Vinagrette
- Fresh Pineapple
- Banana Chocolate Upside Down Cake
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Here's something simple to try the next time you have a craving for noodles or just don't want to cook. It's a really simple recipe, and it comes from the Momofuku cookbook, and it makes enough to store in the fridge for later. Basically, it's ginger and scallions. Here is a link to the recipe.
It's a lot of ginger. It looks like it's going to be overwhelming, but it's not, don't worry.
David Chang recommends serving with a quick salted pickle. This is basically a sliced cucumber mixed with salt and sugar and let to sit for a few minutes. I added water chestnuts from a can because we had them in the pantry, or you could try roasted cauliflower. His suggestion that a dash of hoisin sauce over the top is the perfect finish sounds spot on, but I will have to save it for next time.
Monday, March 29, 2010
It's warm out and egg salad makes a perfect light picnic. It's simple, and a blank slate to be creative with the flavors. This one is fresh dill and sun-dried tomatoes. When I make it I do everything by feel. Hard boil the eggs (I like 2 per sandwich) and chop them roughly. Chop the dill and tomatoes and put everything in a bowl. Add 2 parts dijon mustard, 3 parts mayonnaise, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Taste. Add a little more wet stuff to get the right consistency or a little more salt and pepper.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Paillards are a great way to cook meat. The basic idea is to pound the meat thin. It gets tender, cooks very fast, and maximizes the ratio of browned, seasoned outsides to total weight. Because it's thin it's also easy to pay close attention and not overcook the meat. The browning also lends itself nicely to a pan sauce. Martha has a tasty one here that Emily whipped up the other night. We paired it with cole slaw made with a homemade milk mayonnaise.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
This is the recipe that I mentioned in my Momofuku post. It is so good that I have actually made it twice already. Fish sauce is one of those sauces that doesn't smell so good, but when you start eating it it tastes so good you just keep eating. There are spicy Rice Crispies in here for crunch, along with fried cilantro. This was totally new to me, but it worked great. The leaves get crispy almost instantly and make for something interesting in the bowl. There are a couple ingredients you'll get from the Asian market. The Shichimi Togarashi, a Japanese chili powder, and the fish sauce. Chang recommends Squid brand, which I have actually seen in the market but am waiting to use up what I have before trying it. I gave an easy hand to the vinaigrette when dressing the cauliflower - it needs more than a salad, but less than a total soaking. Overall this recipe is fresh and new, but comforting. Here's a link to the recipe that others have posted.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Arroz con pollo is one of my favorite comfort foods of all time. It can come in many forms and I like nearly all of them. The main definition here is that rice and chicken get cooked in the same pot together and their flavors combine into seriously addictive compounds. Generally dark meats like chicken thighs are used because they stay juicy during the cooking process. Other keys are keeping the rice from getting overcooked and using a "brightening" agent at the very end - something like lemon juice or vinegar that really makes the flavors pop. This recipe from Cook's Illustrated is pretty great. I found two bloggers that have posted the recipe. One is pretty excited about the recipe and has posted it with some modifications. The other has some great pictures of the recipe process, but is a little negative about the amount of work it takes to accomplish this dish. In my opinion there is no downside to eating this for a week. It never even lasts that long.
Monday, March 15, 2010
This is a great one-dish, satisfying vegetarian meal, one that we have made often on weeknights. It's slightly modified from Martha's original recipe here to make it fit into what we normally have on hand in the kitchen. It's got baby bella mushrooms, a lot more greens in the form of spinach, and cornmeal-polenta cooked on the stove and formed into balls with a cookie scoop. The balsamic sauce and the proper seasoning of the polenta make this tasty and warming.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
I have recently finished reading the Momofuku cookbook by David Chang. He's the chef at 3 Momofuku restaurants he started in NYC: noodle bar, ssam bar and ko. Noodle bar is a ramen joint, ssam bar is kind of creative late-night food, and ko is a upscale set menu place, all of which are great concepts. I mean, how cool is "Momofuku" as a name? It means lucky peach which is also my favorite fruit. As a result, I am currently enamored with David Chang's tasty, non-pretentious, hard-working, genuine-feeling style. So we have been scavenging DC for the appropriate Japanese and Korean ingredients with a few pictured here and a few more to go. I have tried one of the simpler dishes - a roasted cauliflower in fish sauce vinagrette - which turned out to be very delicious. This makes me even more excited to try the ramen broth, the steamed buns, the chicken and egg, and almost the whole cookbook which sounds amazing. However it is not for the quick and easy cook - most of these recipes have something that is unusual or take planning and adventures with pork.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
The molcajete is seasoned! I got this Mexican mortar and pestle for Christmas. Then I googled how to prepare it for use. As usual, there were conflicting opinions forecasting certain doom in the form of gritty salsa if the proper seasoning process was not followed. Some seemed to think smoothness was good, others told me to attack the thing with a screwdriver to roughen it up. So I chose my approach... wash the thing well, and then grind rice in it until I got flour.
Wow, that took a lot of work. I think I hurt my arm doing it, but I made flour. There was definitely ground stone mixed in with the rice when I was done. But I wasn't about to repeat the process, so I went ahead and made guac. This is definitely the way to process garlic. Forget the mincer, a bit of oil and a couple of strokes and the garlic is a smooth, even paste. The rest of the guacamole was similarly easy. No grit! The real magic is supposed to be crushing chilies for salsa - supposedly much tastier than the blender. That'll be next.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
I wonder if you have had the same experience I did. Thomas' English Muffins were the only game in town and they were great fresh out of the toaster. Then maybe you tried a Thomas' Bagel. Guess what, it's horrible! It tastes like an English Muffin!
Well guess what? You don't have to buy Thomas', you can make your own. And they don't have that "Thomas'" flavor. In fact they are really, really good fresh. Basically, it is a bread started in the pan and finished in the oven, then fork split. The versions pictured here are from "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" but there are many recipes out there and of course, Emily is still experimenting.
This is the second batch that came out even better than the first!
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Cinnamon bread smells delicious in the oven. This is one of Emily's latest projects. She is working through The Bread Baker's Apprentice, which currently under her review to see if it stands up to rumors that it is an excellent reference on a wide variety of breads. We will keep you posted.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
I recall eating lumpia when I was growing up. It is a Filipino egg roll of sorts, with a filling of all kinds of vegetables... vegetables like cabbage and sweet potato that are easy to find in the winter time but also year-round. I used to eat these at inevitably international pot luck dinners here in the DC area, where, alongside Argentine empanadas, these were my favorites. This recipe is from the Washington post, and is pretty good. Look for the Wei Chuan spring roll warppers - they made these a cinch to roll and were very tasty. The Post also has a photo collection that shows the whole process very well. Note how big the wok is in the pictures... the recipe makes a lot of filling. But I've got some in the freezer which will make frying up my next batch very easy. This recipe is easy to make vegetarian by simply omitting the ground beef... I don't think it would make much of a difference.
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Eating more super-grain salads is a resolution of ours for this year. We got the idea when walking by the salad bar at Whole Foods and realizing that there are a million interesting possibilities with new kinds of whole grains. And by "new," I mean ancient, as many of these grains have been around for a long time and are now making their comeback. A lot is said about their healthiness, but I am more after their different-ness and the culinary possibilities. There is a long list of grains to try: quinoa, amaranth, spelt, farro, wheatberry, all kinds of barley, red, brown, or black rice, the list goes on and on...and they make great salads. We tried this one for quinoa and it's quite good for a one-bowl meal.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
I don't get enough Korean food. I tried going to Woo Lae Oak in Tyson's but I think the sticker shock prevented me from fully enjoying my meal. I have been waiting to try this place out in Annandale, but in the mean time maybe I can make some simple, tasty bits on my own. This recipe for bibimbap, essentially rice with vegetables, comes from maangchi.com. My favorite part about bibimbap is the sesame oil, especially on the wilted spinach, and I will confess adding a little sugar to the mix makes it irresistible. Shown here, I omitted the ground beef and the kosari - you can essentially put in whatever you want once you catch on to the flavor theme. I prefer fresh shitakes and would actually increase the amount of them. Store the cooked veggies in the fridge and you can cook up rice and have a meal in no time when you get home from work.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Today I am celebrating my 100th post! That has got to be some kind of milestone when my previous attempts at blogging usually amounted to about three posts before I got tired and gave up.
This picture is another four-element brunch happily shared with friends. If you remember the formula, I have got one egg thing, one salad, one fruit thing, and one baked good. These are omelets (with roasted red pepper and cheese, I think, and made the Julia Child way where you shake the pan like crazy), salad with herbed baked goat cheese rounds, fresh grapefruit, and banana bread. Winter is citrus season... eat all the grapefruit you can while it's red and sweet.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Shepard's Pie is a great recipe to improvise and that's what we did for this one. The basic concept is simple and a winter classic: a ground meat base (traditionally lamb) with mashed potatoes on top. Assuming you can brown meat and have a mashed potato recipe you can take this in whatever direction you want. The twist with what you are seeing here is that we used ground turkey - the same grind-your-own turkey thighs that I use in the turkey burger recipe. It's got the juiciness and flavor that make this taste special. Make your base with the meat, onions, salt, and pepper, then throw in some veggies. Peas and carrots shown here. For the potato, I think yukon golds are probably your best bet, but go with what you like. For the top, Parmesan or Gruyere work nicely. Brown the whole thing in the oven for a few minutes. If you have oven proof bowls this would make nice individual servings as well.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
I love our waffle maker. Tell me this does not look like a Shel Silverstein poem illustration! Piles of waffles this high do exist. This bounty is of banana waffles - banana mixed into the batter, that is. As much as that sounds great I think this is one of those recipes where you just have to concede that messing with the basic recipe just doesn't come out as good. What happens is the bananas make the waffle taste undercooked no matter how long you cook it. The texture of the hot banana matches undercooked waffle a little too closely. Go with bananas on top.
How do two people eat all those waffles? Lunch that day was toasted waffle Monte Cristos!
There are a million waffle recipes out there. Experiment. These are a yeasted recipe that seems to have come out particularly well. The one trend I have noticed so far is that it is worth it to mix the night before and let the yeast do its work. As usual, it takes a little planning ahead, but the execution in the morning is a lot easier, and the waffles are fluffier and get the "right" texture. And you'll have time to make the scrambled eggs and beet greens you can see on the side.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Those of you who know dal makhani probably won't recognize it here- it's normally dark brown. That's because it uses the whole urad dal - I only had the peeled kind in my pantry so I get yellow. And you can see that the cumin seeds are a bit overdone. But my, my is it tasty. Manjula's recipe is here.