Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Scallion Eggs + Sweet Cumin Carrots

Two eggs beat individually with some chopped scallions. Low heat in small pan to create two omelette discs. Hand cut carrots into small matchsticks. Pan on med-high heat. Toast cumin seeds and red pepper flakes. Add carrots and minced garlic. Cook until soft and flexible. Season with salt and brown sugar. Done when sugar is caramelized.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Marrying Leftovers After a Wedding

I was so occupied with the process of getting food out that I didn't get any photos! Sad face.

Overall, the wedding cocktail hour was a success. It was a huge adrenaline rush and things didn't go exactly as I would have liked, but I think it was important that we were able to adapt and respond quickly to the unexpected. Not bad for my first catering gig. I wouldn't have been able to do it without the help of Jess and Kenzie. People loved the fresh salsa verde on the pork al pastor tacos, as I expected. Unexpectedly, I got a lot of positive feedback about the veggie version of the brat bites, where I subbed in some carrots intensely flavored with cumin and garlic.

I also had the opportunity to help with setting up a very cool light installation in the top of the tent. Tree branches, Christmas lights, paper lanterns and lots of cable wire. A huge testament to the creativity of Erin and Michael and their dedication towards making a reality of their vision. You can see more of their work here at hi note.

So that's that. They sent me back to Atlanta with boxes of leftover beer, wine, and more food from the dinner. Which was amazing. The reception caterer knew where it was at. And that brings me to somehow finding a way to use leftovers.

Cabernet Sauvignon + Salsa Verde + Aromatics + Beef Back Ribs = Tasty Tacos

I got the ribs from the store. They're cheap and are great slow cooked, so after a quick sear, a saute, a deglaze and a low simmer, I was able to set it and forget it. They turned out ridiculously tender and packed with flavor. The acidity of the wine and the tomatillos broke down into a nicely sweet sauce with just the right amount of tartness to balance with the fattiness of the meat. Memorial Day weekend, anyone?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mexican Breakfast

Maybe the title is a little presumptuous. At any rate, the wedding is this weekend and I'm in the final stages of testing the tacos. Lots more prep to do in the coming days.

Here's what I had for breakfast this morning using some of the food I've been making: pork al pastor over fried eggs with salsa verde, sweet onion and cilantro. Half an avocado sprinkled with some salt for good measure.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Bastardized Hainan Chicken (Salad)

A Hainan chicken meal is usually a lot of rice, a lot of chicken, and maybe a little cucumber. And cilantro. I've been trying to shake things up at home a bit, so I turned this into a salad, even adding some rice vinegar to the ginger scallion oil (gasp!).

No bones, no rice. I would've added cucumber and cilantro if I had any on hand, but I didn't. And I'm okay with that because it was still delicious.

  • 4 chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
  • 1 knob ginger, crushed
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut into 2" pieces
  • salt

In a medium pot, fill halfway with water, add the ginger, scallions and salt. Bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, fill another medium pot halfway with water, bring to a boil and add the chicken. Boil for 1 minute and allow the frothy stuff to float to the top. Discard the frothy water, rinse the chicken, and then transfer to the first pot with the rest of the ingredients. Add fresh water so that there's at least 2 inches covering the chicken.

When it returns to a boil, cover the pot, turn off the heat and let the chicken poach undisturbed for 15 minutes. If the chicken isn't yet done, repeat this step.

Remove the chicken and allow it to cool and then pull it apart into strips. The basic stock can be strained and saved for another use.

And now for the ginger scallion sauce.

  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar

Combine the ginger, scallions and salt in a heat proof bowl. Heat the oil in a saucepan until a single piece of chopped scallion dropped in the oil sizzles and bubbles violently. Carefully pour the oil over the ginger scallion mixture and stir. Add the vinegar and stir again.

At this point, the ginger scallion sauce is more of a dressing than merely an oil. I tossed the chicken in it and then plopped a bunch of that over some fresh green lettuce. I'm still getting through the sweet pickled chiles I made months ago, so I added a few of those as well.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Ripening Avocados at Home

I've been snatching up avocados whenever I see them for a good deal, even if they aren't quite ripe, yet. The trick is to also buy bananas or any other climacteric fruit and then store them in the same container to accelerate the ripening process. A brown paper bag works.

These avocados were a little on the firm side when I bought them yesterday evening and after a night with the bananas they ripened up really well. So much so that the remaining avocados are now quarantined in the fridge so they don't die on me by tomorrow.

By the way, this combination above- fresh avocado and fried egg on buttered toast sprinkled with salt and pepper... it's a divine breakfast that can be made in about five minutes.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Chocolate Raspberry + Lemon Prosecco Cakes

I found a cake recipe that I can improvise with! No fucking way! The traditional genoise sponge cake recipe only requires a minimum of three ingredients (eggs, flour, sugar), but once you get the technique down it's smooth sailing from there.

Here, I've made two cakes for Hai and Mark's birthday party. One a chocolate raspberry cake and the other a lemon prosecco cake. The chocolate raspberry is made with chocolate genoise soaked in maraschino liqueur, layered with raspberry preserves and slathered with whipped chocolate ganache.

The lemon prosecco cake is a traditional genoise soaked in prosecco layered with rich lemon curd and wrapped in lemon buttercream.

Good times for all!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Brat Bites and Mini Tacos

I'm blogging from my phone! Haven't updated in a while, but I'm wondering if this new Blogger app will have me posting more frequently. We'll see.

Here's a tasty picture of a brat bite I put together for my friend's Erin and Michael. They're getting married next month and I'm going to be catering the cocktail hour. A little scared but also ridiculously excited to get to cook for so many people.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Potsticker Wrappers From Scratch

Kavitha and I made the wrapper dough using 2 cups of AP flour and 3/4 cup hot water with a pinch of salt. Combine and then knead until smooth. Let rest and cool. Break into small pieces and then roll out.

I attempted the typical dumpling shape that is crimped into a crescent shape, but the dough was a tad too soft and elastic. Instead, I opted for crimping them into the round shape more typical of Shanghai soup dumplings.

It worked!


The final product had a wrapper that was on the thicker side (about 1/8"), which was fine, but I'm curious to see what they would be like even thinner. The dough seemed pliable enough to be able to handle it. Next: Shanghai soup dumplings?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Scallion Pancakes

Chinese scallion pancakes are not your typical kind of pancake that comes from a viscous batter. It's more of a fried bread and starts with a simple hot water dough that is rolled flat, rolled up, then rolled into a spiral, and then rolled flat, again. It's what we call a laminated pastry, similar to puff pastry or even croissants. But it's pan-fried. It can be a breakfast food, but I think it's more of a street food type of snack than anything else. You can get a pile of them at a street cart in Flushing, Queens for something like a dollar.

Notice the flaky layers. I used a recipe from the always reliable Kenji Lopez-Alt on Serious Eats. His investigations and explanations are always a pleasure to read, so I'm not going to go into any of that, here. Read his.

The only thing I would add to his recipe is that you should use a cylindrical rolling pin, and not a tapered French pin (which I usually prefer). The reason is that the scallions embedded into the dough will do all sorts of crazy things as you're trying to roll the dough as thin as possible. A cylindrical rolling pin will ensure an evenly distributed pressure while you're flattening it out, and you won't have (as many) scallions poking out all over the place.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

"Claypot" Rice With Chicken, Chinese Sausage, Shitakes

I don't have a Chinese clay pot, but I so wanted one when I saw this recipe on 3 Hungry Tummies. I went ahead and made it without the pot, anyway, using a medium saucepan.

After some online research and consideration of what's currently in my pantry, I made some slight modifications. The common denominators in most recipes seem to be the clay pot, the rice and the sausage. Most everything else seems to be fair game.

I didn't use chiles. I also don't have salted fish, so I made do without that. For the egg, instead of mixing it into the rice at the end, I fried it separately and served it on top. I added shitakes and served it with some Chinese mustard greens. The specific sausage I used was a Taiwanese style sausage, which is shorter, thicker, a little sweeter and more fragrant. All smiles.

Marinating the Chicken

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2" pieces
  • 1 Chinese sausage, sliced
  • 2 dried shitakes, hydrated and sliced
  • 2 scallions, cut into 2" pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger (Microplane recommended)
  • 1 tbsp soy
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp rice wine
  • 1 tsp corn starch

If the shitakes are not yet hydrated, begin to hydrate them first. Combine all the other ingredients in a bowl and let marinate for an hour. Add the shitakes when they are hydrated. It'll be fine.

Preparing the Rice

  • 1 cup rice (I used short grain sushi grade rice)
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp light soy
  • 1 tbsp dark mushroom soy (careful with this!)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • 2 fried eggs

Start with only the rice and water in a medium saucepan, or more properly, a Chinese clay pot. Bring to a boil and then add the marinated chicken mixture to the top. Don't mix. Cover and let simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.

Mix the soy, dark soy, sugar and sesame oil. Drizzle evenly over the cooked rice and chicken. Again, don't stir. Cover and cook for another 5-10 minutes on low heat, making sure the rice is cooked through.

Remove from heat, add chopped scallions and stir to combine. Serve topped with a fried egg. Serves 2.

Great with unsweetened hot tea.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Coming Soon: Chairman Hu's Pork Belly

A friend and I are working on a competition entry for a local event. We're using the basis of my creation here and its near-winning entry here as a starting point. Probably not deviating much, but adjusting where necessary to WIN. With all the pork belly lying around, I've been playing with a new idea: Chairman Hu's Pork Belly. Ya know, as like a contemporary response to General Tso's Chicken.

These are red chiles I'm experimenting with in a sweet pickling process (candied version was too hard/crunchy/chewy). I didn't cook them long enough, so I decided to just chop them up, instead. Gives a good kick. But I need to retreat from this hoity-toity stuff below. Consider it a work in progress. Needs sauce. Needs rice.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Mushroom Tofu Soup

I suck at Meatless Monday. Usually, I wake up completely forgetting about it and go straight to the fridge and nosh on some leftovers from the previous evening. Something meaty. And then I give up for the remainder of the day because I've already tainted my belly.

Today, I didn't forget. But I still screwed it up. I made a Korean Soon Dubu inspired soup/stew with all sorts of mushrooms (king, enoki, white beech, dried shitake), tofu and bean sprouts. I used a Better Than Bouillon mushroom  base and shiro miso paste to flavor the soup. I used a ton of minced garlic. And then I stirred in some eggs at the end. Vegetarian, no?

Sure, but then I opened the fridge (always regrettable) and took out a bag of fresh kimchi from H-Mart. Opened that sucker up and dug in. Damn. It has fish sauce in it. Whatever. I made the effort.

This was round two, reheating the leftovers with some Chinese broccoli and topping with some avocado and more kimchi, haha.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Playing with Pork Belly Ideas

I'm working on a new food-related project this week which suddenly cast a few packages of pork belly in my fridge. What to do?!  =D

I started playing with some ideas for an upcoming meal, this one using candied peppers. The product didn't end up what I was looking for, so I'm probably going to switch to recipes that are more along the lines of sweet pickled peppers. The candied ones aren't the right texture for this. Still tasty, though.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Indian Style Pilaf

I think the book (which one, I forgot. look up Madhur Jaffrey) intended for the chicken and the pilaf to be served together, so I might as well share the pilaf recipe, too. I would be careful if you choose to use ground spices in lieu of some of the whole ones. You would probably have to use very little, as the effect you're going for is subtle and fragrant. Also, I specified a sweet onion to give the pilaf something to directly contrast with the spicy chicken. Trust, it's worth it.

  • 1 cup basmati rice (or other long grain rice)
  • 1 medium sized sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter (or vegetable oil)
  • 4 whole cardamom pods
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt

In a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat, saute the onion in butter until golden. Add the cardamom pods, cinnamon, cloves, turmeric and bay leaves and saute for 2 minutes or until your kitchen begins to smell like a buttery spice market. Add the rice and stir for another two minutes so that all the grains are coated. Add the water and salt, bring it to a boil, then turn the heat down to the lowest setting and cover. Let it simmer undisturbed for 20 minutes and then take it off the heat. Keep covered until ready to serve, at which point you can fluff with a fork. It's really fluffy!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Madhur Jaffrey's Spicy Indian Chicken

I loved this dish so much that I'm going to actually share a recipe! I don't normally cook Indian food at home because I don't like handling so many spices and oil over a stove, especially turmeric, but this one cooks in the oven. It's fast, and it's incredibly easy.

So much thanks to my friend Stephen for sharing. Here's the recipe as I have adapted it for my pantry. I would use more freshly ground spices if I had a grinder. Working on it!

  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp smoked hot paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • juice of one very large juicy lemon
  • 4 leg-thigh pieces of chicken, skinned and cut apart
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil

Combine cumin, paprika, cayenne, turmeric, pepper, salt, garlic and lemon juice and mix into a paste. Rub the paste all over the chicken pieces until they're well coated. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge for several hours (I did this late at night and waited until the next day around lunchtime to cook).

Let the chicken temper for about half an hour before cooking.

Preheat the oven to 400degF. Place the chicken pieces on a baking dish and brush with the oil. Bake for 20 minutes, turn the pieces over and bake for about 20 minutes more or until done. Transfer to a serving platter and let rest for at least 5 minutes before serving with rice pilaf.

If you want to save all the tasty bits in the baking dish, add a little water and stir over high heat on the stove until the sauce comes together and is a bit reduced. If the dish isn't stove safe (like glass), add the water and place back in the oven, stirring occasionally until you reach the desired consistency of a sauce.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Homemade Pork Ribs in NY

I hate when I make something delicious and forget to photograph it because I'm so caught up stuffing my face. It's my last night in New York visiting family and friends. These two weeks have been kinda crazy. Yesterday my mom pointed at a huge package of frozen pork ribs in the freezer and told me I had free reign. Sure! Three giant racks of ribs? I didn't really put too much thought into a recipe (like I ever?), but I put something together with what was in the house.

1:30pm - Rinse and pat dry the ribs. Salt generously then rub with white pepper and Chinese five spice powder.

1:45pm - Place on a foil lined cookie sheet. Put in the oven at 450deg F.

2:15pm - Cover tightly with foil and then lower oven temp to 275deg F.

4:45pm - Check on ribs. OMFG it's really tender and tastes great even though it wasn't pre-rubbed or marinated.

5:00pm - Prepare sauce. Mom had frozen some super ripe pineapple a few months ago. Took 2 cups of that, pureed it in the Magic Bullet, then mixed in 1/2 cup Chinese BBQ Sauce, 1/2 cup soy sauce, and a 1/2 cup honey. Brushed the sauce on the ribs. Re-cover.

6:00pm - Remove foil cover, baste, and set oven to broil. Move oven racks up. Baste every 3 minutes until toasty and toasted looking.

6:15pm - Remove from oven. Let sit for a few minutes under tented foil. EAT.

You simple cannot avoid the amount of time it takes to cook ribs, but this was seriously very little effort for a whole lot of amazing product. Tender, fall-off-the-bone meat that was really porky with a nice crispy  and savory crust. You can't ask for much more. Except maybe for it to be smoked, but there's where more labor comes in. I'll settle for this.