Archive for the ‘Home Cookin’’ Category

Macerated Strawberry Pancakes

In Home Cookin' on June 23, 2011 at 3:47 am

Note to self. Next time you go crazy at the BevMo five-cent sale and accidentally buy a bottle of a notsoawesome portugese white, here’s how to use it up.

1. Wake Up, slice fresh strawberries into a bowl.

2. Splash in some of the delightful wine, and a sprinkle of sugar.

3. Go walk the dog.

4. Make pancakes and while you’re at the stove, dump strawberry wine concoction into a little pot and let simmer on super low.

5. When the pancakes are done, top with contents of the little pot and some more fresh fruit.

6. Marvel at how good life can be.


Feeling Plummy

In Home Cookin' on June 23, 2011 at 3:43 am

Just moved into a new house with thousands of these sweet little plums totally ripe in the backyard and a santa rosa plum tree with branches we can reach from our bed. WHAT DO I DO WITH THEM ALL? too small to pit, but maybe i should treat them like cherries? just eat them out of hand all day and night?

Kimchi Spring Rolls and Bulgogi

In Home Cookin' on June 23, 2011 at 3:23 am

Had been meaning to try this recipe from the Kitchn for a while, and the hubs was suddenly very interested in learning to roll spring rolls. big hit, red shiso has such a strong flavor, and was a good reminder to head to the nursery for my own shiso plants (which I finally did). next time, more kimchi and more tofu would be better, but overall, awesome with a bottle of torrontes. definitely want to explore full range of spring roll possibilities, including experimenting with tsukemono, other herbs like negi and fruity varieties of mint.

Kimchi Tofu Summer Rolls
Makes 8 large or 12 small rolls

2 ounces dried rice sticks or vermicelli
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Pinch of red pepper flakes

8 ounces firm or extra-firm tofu
1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 cup cabbage kimchi
1 medium carrot
4 lettuce leaves
8-12 Korean perilla leaves (optional)
1 bunch chives

6 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons sesame oil
4 teaspoons Korean chile powder (gochugaru) or another chile powder
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

8 (8-inch) or 12 (6-inch) round rice paper wrappers

For the noodles
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add rice sticks. Stir and cook until noodles are white and tender but still firm, about 3-5 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water.

Place noodles in a bowl and use scissors to cut them into fourths. Toss with the sesame oil and red pepper flakes.

For the tofu
Cut tofu into strips and press between clean kitchen towels or paper towels to rid of excess water.

Heat sesame oil in a skillet and fry tofu, turning once, until golden. Drain excess oil.

For the vegetables
Julienne the carrots.

Using your hands, squeeze the liquid out of the kimchi into a small bowl. Add carrots and toss.

Remove the ribs from the lettuce and tear the leaves into 8-12 pieces.

Cut the chives in half.

For the sauce
In a small bowl, whisk together ingredients for sauce. Set aside.

To assemble
Fill a cake or pie pan with hot water. Submerge one wrapper for 30 seconds, then remove, letting excess water drip off. Lay it on your work surface.

Place a piece of lettuce (and a perilla leaf, if using) just below the center of the wrapper. Top with 1/8 or 1/12 (depending on number and size of wrappers) of the kimchi, noodles, tofu, and carrots, and a few sprigs of chives.

Fold the bottom edge of the wrapper up over the filling, then fold in the sides. Roll up to the top edge to close.

Place each finished roll seam-side down on a large plate or tray and cover with a lightly dampened towel until ready to serve.

Related: Recipe: Vegetable and Mint Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce

(Images: Emily Ho)

Roast Duck Chow Fun (for cheaters)

In Home Cookin' on June 22, 2011 at 5:11 am

Whenever my mom visits, it’s highly likely we’ll head to chinatown and get a roasted duck and custard cups. I used to like both of these dishes as a youngster, but lately haven’t been so keen on their richness. However, my mom proffered half of the duck she bought this sunday at just the right time: I had just picked up a hefty bag of freshly made rice noodles, ready to be sliced up for some chow fun that’s been on my mind since Maui. I figured it was the perfect moment to try to cheat a great dish, and spread out some of that ducky richness.

1. obtain 1 bag (6 pieces) rice noodles, 1/4 peking duck (chopped bite size), container of sauce that comes with the duck, and chives.

2. Heat a little canola oil in the wok on med, add duck pieces and render the fat, turning once so skin sides are crisped. Slice noodles into ribbons, carefully separate.

3. Remove Duck (leave fat in the pan), turn up the heat, stir fry noodles till light brown. Add chopped up chives, stir fry all together

4. drizzle duck sauce, stir fry some more. finally, add duck back in.

5. Serve island style, shoyu on the side for extra drizzles.

Peaches in Paradise

In Home Cookin' on July 20, 2009 at 12:55 am

Peaches in Paradise: see that lychee floating on top? that's your reward for making the effort to mix the drink in the first place.Pardon me if this post is a bit sloggy, I’m still enjoying the drink that I am about to share with you. You see, it’s really, really hot in the Inland Empire today, and we’re trying to be good soldiers and not turn on the air conditioner, especially not during primetime energy hours in the afternoon. I was going to grab a beer from the fridge, but that seemed boring. Then I spied the lonely gigantic bottle of Captain Morgan’s Coconut Rum in the fridge and immediately began hunting for companions. Fresh white peaches that are just slightly overripe then caught my eye from the bowl on the counter. I peeled one of those, threw it in the food processor with a little ice water and a dollop of raspberry jam (my go to sweetener in all emergencies) and combined the resulting puree with coconut rum and lots of ice. To top it off I cracked open my jar of lychees soaked in vodka (what, you don’t keep a bottle of those?) and poured in a dollop of the lychee flavored vodka for good measure. If you don’t have the lychees, it’s still all good. Just park yourself in front of the fan, and take slow sips until you start to hear the ukeleles in the background….

Carb-tastic Junk Food

In Home Cookin' on July 14, 2009 at 6:17 am

Want a snack?I just wanted to share one of my favorite guilty pleasures. Basically it’s souped up inari, the sushi made with fried tofu pouches. What’s crazy is that it is even easier than straight inari, because these convenient little seasoning packets just get dumped into fresh rice, mixed around and put into pouches.

Sorry it's sideways, technical difficulties. But this is the magical stuff, I pick it up at my local Japanese grocery.

What you get is a seasoned rice that is stronger in taste than traditional sushi rice, with little slices of mushroom, lotus root and carrot in it, all wrapped up in a  handy tofu package. With a little soy sauce and nori on the side, it’s an awesome little nosh. I’m pretty sure the seasoning mix has MSG and this much white rice at one go is not great for the glycemic index, but hey, it’s better than polishing off a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Right?This is the brand of abura age (tofu pouches) that I use. it's a good idea to follow the directions and pour hot water over thema nd blot right before stuffing. Gets rid of excess oil and makes them more pliable when you are opening the pouch itself.

Plum Irrational

In Home Cookin' on July 14, 2009 at 5:58 am

plum deliciousnessToday was a scorcher in the Inland Empire, exactly the kind of day when you dream of firing up the oven. Just kidding, that would be crazy, right? So imagine my surprise when I found myself standing at the counter, mixer in hand, whipping up a plum upside down cake. I am actually really opposed to using the oven when it’s hot out–just wasteful and really, that is why humans invented the grill. But the lure of fresh plums  caramelized in their own juices, dripping syrupy goodness into a lightly sweet cake, was too much for me to resist.

I modified a recipe in this month’s issue of Real Simple magazine, with positive results. The addition of yogurt created a cake base that was light, moist and fluffy beyond imagination. The dollop of raspberry preserve smoothed out the tart edges of a few plums that were a bit on the sour side. I served it with raspberry and vanilla ice cream, it’s also good with a little heavy cream poured over it (isn’t everything?). I’m not great at writing recipes out, but hopefully you’ll get the drift.

Plum Upside Down Cake – modified from Real Simple Magazine, August 2009

1. Preheat oven to 350, butter and line an 8″ pan.

2. Slice 4-5 plums, saute over m-h heat with a tablespoon of butter, 1/4 cup of sugar and a spoonfull of raspberry preserves. 4-5 min until juices are nice and syrupy. Arrange plum slices in an even layer in the bottom of cake pan.

3. Combine 1 c flour, 3/4 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt. In mixing bowl, cream 1/2 c butter and 2/3 c sugar with an electric mixer till good and fluffy (don’t skimp on this!). Mix in 2/3 cup thick plain yogurt (I used nonfat with great results), 1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla. Slowly add in the dry ingredient mix, just until everything is incorporated. Pour the batter over the plums and pop that sucker in the oven.

4. bake for 50-55 min, till it passes the clean toothpick test in the middle. cool in the pan 1 hour, then place a large plate on top and invert. enjoy your amazing cake!

makes me want to eat a third slice....

Savory Steals: Great Crunchy Garnishes

In Home Cookin', Savory Steals on July 3, 2009 at 5:14 am
Tonight's dinner of Green Papaya Salad with Grilled Shrimp got a big boost from a handful of Fried Garlic and Peanuts. Get out your breath mints.

Tonight's dinner of Green Papaya Salad with Grilled Shrimp got a big boost from a handful of Fried Garlic and Peanuts. Get out your breath mints.

Like just about everybody else, this summer we are tightening up our already snug household budget. One savory steal that I think gets underutilized sometimes is a great crunchy topping. When I’m using up the remnants of a bag of salad, some baby spinach leaves and that last, perhaps slightly dry carrot or random leftover tomato, homemade croutons from those last end pieces of a bread loaf transform a lackluster salad into a luscious one.  Cube it up, season with salt, pepper, parmesan and saute or toss in the toaster oven. Homemade croutons, toasted almonds tossed with spices…you see where I’m going here. That extra layer of texture can really boost the power of an otherwise ho-hum dish.

Another hero in this category, that requires only a tiny bit more prep, is the great, the grand, fried garlic and peanuts. Every once in a while, I pick up a $1.99 bag of blister peanuts at Trader Joe’s. Chop them up, as fine or coarse as you like, do the same with a head of garlic. I like to fry the garlic first on medium-low with canola or grapeseed oil, to make sure the oil itself gets a nice garlicky flavor. Then toss in the peanuts and DO NOT WALK AWAY. Stir and watch until you get that golden-brown delicious color and incredible crunch. I have made the mistake of thinking I could multi-task for 30 seconds, only to have a big pan of burned garlic.  The reward for your five minutes of patience is a tupperware full of crunchy, salty garlicky magic that you can keep in the fridge and toss on just about any dish. I like it on fresh, southeast-asian salads like the green papaya salad I made for dinner tonight, or vermicelli with grilled shrimp or pork. It also works well on thick soupy dishes like congee, arroz caldo, potato-leek soup, or vegetable purees. Any stir-fried dish, from just a handful of green beans to more elaborate rice-noodle dishes and everything in betwen, also get a great boost from the fried garlic & peanuts. For $1.99, how can you not make a batch of this little hero?

Pairings: Guava Juice and Green Mangoes

In Hawaii, Home Cookin' on June 16, 2009 at 5:19 am

Guava Coolers and Vermicelli Salad with Green Mangoes and Misoyaki Grilled Chicken

Guava Coolers and Vermicelli Salad with Green Mangoes and Misoyaki Grilled Chicken

I came home today with serious withdrawals from my trip to Oahu this past week. To cope with this phenomenon every year and keep myself from looking at real estate listings on Maui, I usually cook a lot of foods that remind me of my favorite aspects of Hawaiian cuisine. My trusty guide is usually a great book called Ethnic Foods of Hawaii by Ann Kondo Corum, which is part history of Hawaiian food, part cookbook.

Tonight, I really missed some of the wonderfully innovative tropical drinks I tried on this last trip, and I wanted to eat crisp and refreshing green mango to counteract the copious amounts of kahlua pork I’ve eaten in the last few days. I had my eye on this great guava juice I have and started conceiving a  meal from there. The guava juice, mixed with a coconut rum, vodka and a bit of mint syrup yielded a wonderfully light cooler. Sipping thoughtfully, I knew I had to grill something since I had a drink in hand. The vermicelli salad with green mangoes and misoyaki grilled chicken was a great blend of some of my favorite Hawaiian flavors, and a handful of mint from the garden tied it together with my guava cooler. Vietnamese cuisine definitely holds a place in the blend of ethnic influences that comprise Hawaiian cuisine, and misoyaki marinated fish and meats are a common fixture in local bento boxes . The slight sweetness of the miso marinade on the chicken was a nice counterpart to the saltiness of the nuoc cham. For a meal that started as an excuse to have a tropical drink, the combination of flavors turned into a great summer meal.If you don’t have jicama and green mango handy, this salad would also be great with cucumbers and pineapple instead.

Savory Steals: Dal of my Dreams

In Home Cookin', Savory Steals on March 2, 2009 at 3:44 am

I love that big important chefs are dishing out modern interpretations of curries, adobo and vermicelli salads–immigrant soul food. Why should European foods be the only ones worth shelling out big bucks for and calling “gourmet?” Potato soup is potato soup after all.  At the same time, I expect that foods that cost almost nothing to make in home countries like mine, and very little to make here in the U.S., should also be widely, cheaply available. I say, if a dish was invented by or for people with very few resources, it should be delicious, accessible and cheap.

One dish that fits this bill, that I’ve seen recently commanding ridiculous prices, is dal. This Indian vegetarian staple fills your house with dreamy, beautiful smells as it cooks and can be based on very, very cheap ingredients from your local Asian market. Garbanzo beans, lentils, mung beans…all extremely cheap, long shelf lives…any of them can form the base for a good dal. The recipes are really simple: saute spices, maybe with butter, add lentils and liquid and cook away until the desired consistency. The ingredients list is a bit long and can vary depending on what you grew up with, but it’s img_0436inexpensive and will launch you into a thousand delicious Indian dishes.

Dal, with yogurt and chapati (easiest and quickest bread in the world) or rice if you prefer, is a very filling meal for literally millions of people in Southeast Asia. I usually also pull some homemade chutney out of the fridge and bake up some homemade samosas I keep in the freezer. If that weren’t enough, the next day you can take that Dal, thin it out with some broth and have a delicious soup. A Savory Steal indeed! Traditionally if you flavor this soup it with some tamarind and other things, it’s  sambar, another classic South Asian dish. I don’t keep tamarind around, but the soup is awesome without it, or with a handful of diced tomato or other veggie thrown in.

Like I said, options abound for dal recipes on the internet. I personally love Majula’s Kitchen on youtube, because I love the videos of Manjula herself. She’s amazing. Check out the potato samosa video while you are there.  It’s awe-inspring that she effortlessly makes dough and filling and only gets her right hand dirty.