Sunday, December 11, 2005

a life full of tiny olives

One of my favorite places to eat in New York is Le Pain Quotidien, and yes, I know they're all over the place. The beauty of this Belgium (?) restaurant is that the food is never overly complicated, but simply fresh and put together with great appeal. And, of course, great bread.

I mention LPQ because they have the most exquisite nicoise olives. I'm not certain why these tiny olives are so appealing, but they are a delightful addition to just about everything you could imagine them on.

During Thanksgiving I visited a friend who made a fabulous recipe from this cookbook:

He made the fried oysters with andouille sausage and salad and frizzled leeks, which was so delicious, and so entirely out of my repetoire.

For some reason this French bistro style reminds me of Japanese cooking. Japanese cooking often relies on a few clean strong flavors that balance each other. This often makes cooking Japanese food quick, and to my surprise, this lunch of Warm Potato Salad and Nicoise Salad was quick and easy to prepare.

Warm Potato Salad

1 1/2 lb of small red potatoes steamed
2 T olive oil
3 T white vinegar (I used rice vinegar)
2 T dry vermouth (or any dry white wine)
1 t salt
2 green onions minced or bunch of chives chopped
4 stalks of parsley (flat leaf) chopped
2 scallions finely minced or equivalent amount of red onion finely minced

Steam the potatoes for about 20 minutes, pierce to see if they're finished. Potatoes should not be mushy. While potatoes are cookin' mix olive oil, vinegar, vermouth, and salt in a bowl. Mince chives, parsley and scallions and set aside. When the potatoes are finished, in a small bowl toss the potatoes with the vermouth dressing and let sit for about 10 minutes. After that toss with the garnish.

Nicoise Salad

1/2 c nicoise olives
juice of 1/2 of a lemon
3 T capers
1 can of tuna
4 boiled eggs
1 clove of garlic finely minced
1/2 bunch of parsley finely minced
1/2 red onion finely minced
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Boil the eggs for ten minutes. Throw everything in a bowl and mix, pretty much.

I can't keep my hands off the leftovers ...

Friday, December 09, 2005

clementines & marzipan chocolate bars

It's officially winter (as if the minus degree weather hadn't clued me in yet).

This pair is what officially keeps me happy and are pretty much the tastes of the season:


There's nothing better than waking up on a chilly winter morning and eating a few sweet clementines.

A little bit 'o history about these plump sweet orange beauties:

"The origin of clementines is shrouded in mystery. Some attribute their discovery to father Clement, a monk in Algeria, who tending his mandarin garden in the orphanage of Misserghim, found a natural mutation. He nurtured the fruit tree and subsequently called it "clementino". Others, like Japanese botanist Tanaka, believe that clementines must have originated in Asia and found their way through human migration to the Mediterranean. Whatever their origin, the fact is that clementines found their natural climate and soil in Spain, where they developed their particular aroma, sweetness and taste. Commercial production of clementines began in Spain in 1925. Today there are 161,000 acres dedicated to the cultivation of clementines." from Produce Pete

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

pingu a'boil

Before anyone protests, Pingu is just doing his job -- what he's supposed to do. I have gotten these adorable ceramics from Tokyo which my good friend arranged to buy for me to my delight.

I use my ceramic Pingu also for chocolate pots de creme, which is a recipe for another day.

Today I learned how to coddle an egg!

I don't think anyone hardly coddles eggs anymore, leastwise on this side of the Atlantic. If you look up coddlers you'll see things that look like modified tiny mugs with handles and lids.

While I have extensively explored baked eggs (which are also done in ramekins) coddled is an entirely new way for eggs. And of course my heart swoons.

Eggs are particularly prominent in Asian cuisine. I tend to look a little taken aback when someone doesn't love eggs. Who can forget the description of the golden flakey meat pies that had boiled eggs inside it like hidden treasures?

Sorry for the long rambly introduction, but coddling eggs is really easy ...

Joy's First Coddled Eggs

2 fresh eggs
2 T grated cheddar
1 t harissa
1 t milk
tiny lump of butter

freshly ground pepper and salt to taste

Coddled recipes recommend you butter the dish, but I just throw in butter on the bottom, and add everything. Set the coddler in the pot and bring to boil and boil for around 12 minutes. The water should reach halfway up the cup/ramekin/coddler.

At the end of the time, usually most of it was cooked, but not the middle, but I mixed it up a little and the residual heat cooked up the uncooked parts. The yolks should be softly cooked ...

Having harissa around makes my life happy. Something about that pungent paprika garlic spicy mixture really makes everything delicious.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

an imprecise science

It's not called cheating if it tastes good ...

So, as with many pleasures of the kitchen, new favorite recipes are hit upon by accident.

I found that when I stuck my leftover acai smoothies in small cups the freezer, that if I took them out to take a bite out of after dinner, often times they had become a pleasing granita or sorbetto.

So with much pleasure I present Mango Peach sorbetto:

Mango Peachie Sorbetto

2 cups of frozen mango chunks (you can buy them at Trader Joe's or freeze your own)
4 cups of white peach white grape juice

Blend. It helps to have a good ice crusher function on the blender. Pour into small freezer friendly cups and wait about the length of one rental movie.

With a spoon break up the sides and smush around nicely.

This also has the taste and feeling of a tropical compote which could probably be warmed and served over yogurt or ice cream.

A little summer in your winter ...

Thursday, November 10, 2005

it's pronounced "ah-sigh-EE"

Just a quick pantry plug:

Acai is the Brazilian wonderberry of the world:

In his #1 New York Times best selling book, "The Perricone Promise," Dr. Perricone names Acai the #1 Superfood on the planet. He also calls Acai one of the most nutritious and powerful foods in the world! Here's why:

ANTIOXIDANTS - Acai has more Antioxidants than blueberries, green tea, and red wine. Everyone needs antioxidants to seek and destroy free radicals in the body. Free radicals are harmful molecules that can cause premature aging, cancer, heart disease, and even Alzheimer's.

OMEGA FATTY ACIDS - Acai contains Omega Essential Fatty Acids EFA's. EFA's are the same healthy fats found in olive oil, flax seed, and fish and are believed to protect the heart, lower cholesterol & blood pressure, improve depression and fight cancer.

ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS - Acai contains a similar protein profile as an egg ... 8 of 9 essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins for strength and endurance.

Acai berry/Acai fruit (Euterpe oleracea)
Also called: Assai palm, euterpe palm, palmito acai, asai, cabbage palm, assaizeiro, pina palm, palmier pinot, jucara.
Parts used: fruit, heart

The acai palm is a tall slender South American (concentrated in Brazil, Guyana, Suriname) palm grown for its fruit as well as for the "cabbage" (the cluster of new leaves more commonly called the "heart of palm"). It prefers swampy areas, and grows quickly. The fronds were (and still are) used for thatching and weaving.

Each acai palm tree produces small deep purple, almost black, fruit (berries) in groups of 3-8 per bunch. The fruit is edible, and its pulp is used in wines, liqueurs, as flavouring, as colourant, and on its own as a juice.

Acai fruit contains essential fatty acids (Omega-3 and Omega-6) plus oleic acid (Omega-9) which are good for lowering Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) levels. Acai berries also contain high levels of calcium, vitamin e and phosporous, high concentrations of polyphenols making it a good antioxidant.

Current (Western) Use Acai fruit is also high in anthocyanin, a phytochemical that is is found in red wine, blueberries, raspberries, and other foods and drinks that come highly recommended for their health benefits. In fact, acai has up to 25 times the anthocyanin found in red wine, and none of the controversy over its effects.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

how to eat a whole head of cabbage

Cabbage isn't a favorite vegetable of mine ...

... but it's really cheap, and as my mother likes to remind me, it's full of a lot of excellent vitamins and such.

I decided to modify a recipe from Jamie Oliver and make Thai Cabbage Packets (instead of Chinese). It's a little similar to making tamales or dumplings, although not nearly as time intensive as tamales.

With a food processor, it becomes pretty simple to make any sort of filling like this one.

Thai Chicken Cabbage Packets

4 chicken thighs skinned boned, and roughly chopped
3 spring onions
1/3 bunch of cilantro
1 garlic clove smashed
2 T fish sauce
1/2 inch of ginger peeled and smashed
1/2 t sesame oil
juice of 1/2 lime
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chinese Cabbage or
Napa Cabbage

Sriracha sauce mixed with
Fish sauce (the dipping kind, not the cooking kind)

Food processor
Steamer or homemade concocted steamer

In effect, just blitz all the filling ingredients together. Although, unfortunately the foodprocessor can sometimes grind the chicken a little too fine, it doesn't really affect the taste. For a more Chinese taste I would reconstitute some dried black mushrooms, maybe 3-4 mushrooms and mince them in the processor for the filling.

Let the filling marinate for about half an hour in the refrigerator. Then, after thoroughly cleaning the lettuce leaves, use about half of a leaf for each packet. There's no need to make sure they stay wrapped since when you put them in a bamboo steamer, you just butt them up against each other. If you're like me, without a steamer, I just put them in a shallow bowl in a raised big pot. The key is not to let the water flow into where the packets are, and these can be steamed in about one inch of water.

Also, when using the Chinese cabbage, try not to use the strong white vein because that ends up being a little too chewy and awkward.

Steam the packets for at least 8 minutes. Check to see if the thigh meat is cooked through. Jamie Oliver recommends just serving it up in the bamboo steamer, which sounds like a fabulous idea, and put a little sauce container in the middle.

They do come out remarkably pretty and tasty.

Monday, October 31, 2005


Since I think of food disproportionately compared to other people, this little monologue might seem a little bizarre. I usually sit around and come up with cravings which can only be satisfied by cooking up that particular dish since I'm usually nowhere close to a restaurant of that cuisine.

So, in the past week or so I was thinking abou Mohinga which is a Burmese curry fish noodle soup. Although in Burma it's served as a breakfast soup, I tend to eat it for lunch and dinner.

It really depends how much soup you want to eat. Here's a recipe for about four to six people.

2 lb firm white fish (catfish, bass)
2 t yellow curry powder
1 t turmeric
1 inch of ginger smashed
1 large onion minced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 t shrimp paste (if you have it)
4 c fish broth or veggie broth
1/2 can coconut milk (7 oz total)
1/2 can of bamboo shoots
1/2 small head of cabbage finely sliced

2 t Cooking oil

Egg noodles or fresh pasta egg noodles

Garnishes: boiled eggs, peeled and quartered, lemon wedges, chopped coriander, and chopped green onion, and fried onion bits.

Depending on whether you plan to use dried pasta noodles or fresh, start a large pot of water boiling for the pasta (cook according to directions), and boil eggs (10 minutes after boil begins). In a large pot heat cooking oil over medium high heat and add the onion and garlic and saute until transparent. Then, add the curry powder and the shrimp paste and continue to fry for another minute. Add cabbage and continue to saute. When cabbage is softened add the broth, coconut milk, turmeric, clump of ginger and bamboo shoots. Bring soup to a boil and then simmer for 30-45 minutes, depending on how long you can bear to wait for the soup to finish. In the last 5 minutes add the fish fillets. When they are cooked, take them out of the soup and flake them and put back into the soup.

In noodle soup bowls place noodles, then soup, and garnish with boiled egg wedges, cilantro and green onion, and squeeze the lemon slices into the soup.

This soup gets better the next day ...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

snacking on feta

I'm most often pleased when I have at least five different sorts of cheese. The standard wedge of parmesan-reggiano, soft chevre goat cheese, extra sharp cheddar, double creme brie, halloumi, and feta are all cheeses which make my mealtimes and, maybe even more importantly, my snacks extra delicious throughout the week.

Feta is a cheese that I don't often use in regular cooking. It is great on salads, a good addition to omelets, but late at night, I found myself attempting to snack on feta. If you've tried this, you'll agree with me that feta is pretty anti-quick fingered late-night snacking.

Since I bought a bunch of basil from the farmer's market again, I had the easy idea of a basil mint feta spread, with lemon, of course.

Basil Mint Feta Spread

1 bunch basil
5 leaves of mint
half a block of feta
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 clove of garlic or 2 cloves roasted garlic

optional: 2 T roasted almonds
optional: 3 T creme fraiche or sour cream

I happened to have roasted almonds which I had blitzed earlier to sprinkle over my oatmeal. To do this, toast the almonds on a sheet in the toaster oven on medium-high, and then use a mini processor to roughly chop them up.

I'm not really sure what people did before food processors. Don't be shy about getting one. A small one will cost around twenty dollars, and will save you a lot of elbow grease. Plus, you'll be able to make hummus!

Place basil, mint, lemon juice, and garlic in the processor and blend until semi-smooth. Then, crumble in feta and process until creamy and combined.

If you are going to add in the creme fraiche or sour cream, spoon into processor and blend again.

I served this on my favorite snacking bread "knäckebröd" which is a Swedish crisp bread often made by Wasa, topped with some cherry tomatoes I also bought for a song at the farmer's market. I sprinkled more roasted almond bits on top.

As they say in Swedish varsagod och äta!

Friday, October 21, 2005

pumpkin pumpkin everywhere

A week in pumpkin ...

I'll get around to posting the pumpkin muffins recipe this weekend, but this morning, I increased my pumpkin-quotient and made Spiced Pumpkin Oatmeal with Golden Raisins and Baked Apples.

Spiced Pumpkin Oatmeal with Golden Raisins and Baked Apples

2 apples
Scotish or Irish Oatmeal
4 T + 1 T Dark brown sugar
1/3 c golden raisins
8 T pumpkin puree (non spiced)
1/4 t cloves
1/4 t ginger
1/4 t cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of salt

toasted pecans or almond slices (optional)
1/4 c apple cider (optional)

Thinly slice 2 apples and sprinkle with 1 T of dark brown sugar and set under broiler for about 10 minutes, if toasting nuts, add nuts in the oven in the last two minutes or so.

Prepare oatmeal according to original package instructions, preferrably Scottish or Irish steel cut.
When the oatmeal is simmering, add pumpkin puree, and all the spices (cloves through salt), and add the glug of apple cider.

After the oatmeal is ready, place 1 rounded tablespoon of brown sugar at the bottom of each bowl, then cover with spiced pumpkin oatmeal, flood with milk and sprinkle golden raisins and apple slices on top, and nuts if you have them ...

Cold weather is made infinitely cozier through bowls of warm oatmeal.

some fall tapas for some delight

Mmmm, yummy.

I've had my shared of the garlicky delights of tapas, and I have a great fondness for their bacon wrapped figs or dates. While really good, salty, and sticky, the sweetness of the date usually overwhelmed the dish.

Well, whenever you bacon wrap anything, it's going to tend towards delicious. Here's my home version, with a little daub of luxuriant goat cheese. Though thoroughly ungarlicky, these are extremely good. Don't just save these for parties, make a few for yourself for a great in-between-meals nibble.

Prosciutto Wrapped Pear with Goat Cheese

1 large Bosc Pear in 8-12 pieces
2 oz. French soft goat cheese
8-12 pieces of thinly sliced prosciutto
8-12 toothpicks

freshly ground black pepper

Baking sheet or dish

Set the oven to broil.

Soak toothpicks in cold water.

Core the pear, and cut into 8 pieces. Take a half to one piece of tender prosciutto, daub about 1 t of goat cheese, add pear piece, and wrap and pin with a toothpick. Finish the rest of the pieces in the same way. Set aright and place in the oven for about 5-7 minute under the broiler. Grind fresh ground black pepper over the prosciutto wrapped delights.

Careful, though ... the temptation is to eat these right out of the oven, and they're very hot. Just two of these had me tap dancing my way to class today.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

swedish + asian = eastern european?

I've hit upon something really delicious. Swedish-asian fusion, I kid you not ... one of my favorite restaurants in New York is Good World Bar & Grill located on Orchard between Canal and Division, or somehow in that junction serves up Swedish fusion, much to my delight.

I had a few baby leeks -- which cook up fantastically fast, and some new potatoes. Of course I've seen the potato leek ravioli in Little Italy delicatessens, and the school cafeteria introduced me to the winter coma inducing pierogis.

These little babies are a little time intensive. Save this for a night when you would enjoy the rhythm of folding dumplings.

Curried Potato and Baby Leek Dumplings with Yellow Coconut Curry Sauce

Dumpling Filling

12 new potatoes
3 baby leeks
1 heaping teaspoon of yellow curry powder
1/4 c milk
2 t butter
1 t sea salt

1 package of Gyoza wrappers
(I tend to buy Japanese because they're thicker and then more chewy)

1/2 can of coconut milk (13 oz)
2 t curry powder
1 t brown sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 t fish sauce or soy sauce

immersion blender

optional: coriander and chives for garnish

Steam or boil the new potatoes until tender. They might cook up much faster than the usual 20 minutes. Mince the leeks and saute in olive oil (3-5 minutes). In a large bowl place sauteed leeks, curry powder, butter, milk, and sea salt and blend with immersion blender. When potatoes are ready add (I left the skins on), and also blend with immersion blender.

While potatoes are ostensibly cooking, place the half of a can of coconut milk in a little pot and bring to a boil, add the curry powder and the sugar and fish sauce mixing well. Let the sauce boil down and thicken. When it is creamy turn off the heat and add the lemon juice.

With filling, take a heaped teaspoon for each wrapper. Pinch skin and fold down, and continue pinching as if making petals that you press down. I'll have to put up instructional photos next time. If that fails, just fold and seal.

Over medium high heat, place dumplings in large saucepan (as many as fit comfortably) with a little bit of olive oil. Heat until bottoms of the dumplings are light brown. Then add 1/3 cup of water and lower heat to about a low-medium and place on cover ajar so that the dumplings steam. Steam for about five minute until water is gone.

Serve immediately, since they don't stay warm long with a draping of the yellow coconut curry sauce. I think this serves about four very hungry people.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

curry in no hurry

In a beautiful little college town named Amherst, MA two of my favorite restaurants: Judie's and Fresh Side; feature a favorite fusion dish of mine called Curried Chicken Salad. Ordinarily, I would wrap these up Fresh Side style in a nice stretchy chewy mini burrito styled way using Spring Roll wrappers (the frozen ones made out of rice), but since I didn't have any, I made a salad instead.

I took a little bit of inspiration from here and there for ideas for my own curry chicken salad. It was fun since it's been a long favorite of mine, but I've never made it before.

Joy's Curried Chicken Salad

2 Large Chicken Breasts (poached or sauteed -- see Pesto recipe for instructions)
1/4 red onion finely minced or 4 shallots minced
5 t curry powder
6 T mayonaisse
1/2 c golden raisins and currants mixed (plumped in hot water for 15 minutes)
1 small banana in coins
juice of 1/2 a lime
1 t honey
1 t salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 c roasted and salted cashews roughly chopped

Optional: half mayonaisse and half yogurt (to give it more tang)

In a container which you don't mind a slight yellow tinge (from the turmeric from the yellow curry powder), mix everything except the chicken in. Cut the chicken into bitable pieces, then combine.

Serve on a bed of lettuce with a side of your favorite dressing, or wrap in spring roll wrappers.

Since I'm tentatively trying to start learning how to make Indian food, I bought a slick little spice grinder, and I made my own yellow curry powder today. This is slightly time intensive, but I think it's more a mental thing because Americans have no problems making marinades. This is like a marinade, just a dry rub. Both Thai and Indian recipes roast their spice pastes before using them to get the essential oils of the spice out.

Joy's Yellow Curry Spice Blend

2 T coriander seeds
2 T cumin seeds
1 t ginger
1 t turmeric
4 green cardamom seeds
dash of cinnamon
1 t fenugreek (I love the way it smells)
2 t red chile flakes
5 black peppercorns

Spice grinder

In a pan over low heat dry roast spices until they are hot to the touch. Don't burn them! Stir so they do not burn. I dry roasted mine for about 10 minutes on a very low heat -- I was afraid of burning the spices. In any event, place roasted spices in spice grinder and blitz. Let cool by spreading out on a sheet of parchment or any other flat surface.

Have you heard of the wonder berry acai? I can't even pronounce it aloud, but this Brazilian berry is supposedly the new most fabulous thing one can eat for your body. Anyway, I bought frozen acai from my organic coop. Here's the smoothie recipe.

Acai Smoothie

1 small banana
2 c juice (passionfruit/white grape)
1 t honey
1 packet of acai (frozen puree)
8 frozen blackberries
8 frozen blueberries

Blend up this baby. No additional ice is needed since the fruit is all frozen. I try not to consume too much smoothie since the sugar content is very high. Also, if you freeze the smoothie (if there are leftovers) it makes a great sorbet.

Smoothies and salads, salads and smoothies. The weather here has gone back up to 80 F again ...

Saturday, October 15, 2005

how to make a little tuna go a long way

In celebration of finding fresh fish I made my two favorites: tuna tartar, and tuna tataki.

Though my mother worries, I cannot stay away from ahi tuna in every shape and form: raw, seared, tartar, tataki, broiled; it's all very very tasty.

There are no pictures of these dishes because I devoured them right away.

Tuna Tartar

1/4 lb ahi tuna diced into small pieces
1/2 ripe but firm avocado diced
1/8 onion finely sliced carmelized
two softly cooked egg yolks
1 T ponzu sauce (Japanese soy/lemon flavored sauce)

Start with boiling the eggs in the water. When it is boiling, let the eggs continue to cook at a simmer for about 3 minutes. Saute the thinly thinly sliced pieces of onion in the least oil possible on the stovetop. Then, dice up the tuna and the avocado. It's possible to put this in a small form, I tend to use little tupperware or bowl, or just use my hands. Form a circular mound of diced avocado, then place the tuna atop that. Crack open the eggs, and using only the creamy yolks, place in the center of the tuna (you'll have to poke a hole and then reform around it. Place the carmelized onions on top, and pour over the ponzu sauce. Find your chopsticks and eat immediately.

Spicy Crunchy Tuna Tataki

1/4 lb ahi tuna
3-4 chives
1 t sriracha sauce (asian chili sauce, can be found in Chinese grocery stores)
1 T Japanese Mayonaisse
2 T tempura flakes

Toasted Nori cut into thin strips (optional)

soy sauce

food processor

Put everything into food processor, and chop until barely combined. Here is an aesthetic choice, you can put the strips of toasted nori on the bottom, a little bit like a nest, or on top. It's really your decision. Form into the traditional pointy mound.


Friday, October 14, 2005

it's still summer here

We read a poem in my poetry workshop called, "Why I Can't Cook Dinner for Your Self-Centered Architect Cousin," the other day which described pesto as "green joy ... a tumbling, leggy dish," by Beth Ann Fennely, which seemed especially good timing because I had bought a bunch of basil from the farmer's market.

Making pesto seems like it'd be a fussy thing, but this is my first time, and I found it really simple with a mini food processor, and the best pesto I've tasted, even pinenut-less.

Pinenut-less Green Pesto

One bunch of basil
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 square inch of parmesan
juice of half a lemon
1/4 t salt
1 t extra virgin olive oil

Rip off the leaves, smash the garlic cloves and peel off the skin and the rough end, chop of the knob of parmesan and squeeze the lemon juice into the food processor. Then add the olive oil and salt and blend. I can't say this makes a lot of pesto, but pesto definitely packs a punch for the small quantity it makes.

To be honest, I find most meat cooking a bit intimidating. But, here's a way for even the most intimidated by meat cooks to manage. I take a package of 3 skinless and boneless breasts and saute them in olive oil.

Chicken Breast for Everything

3 breasts (skinless/bonless)
1/2 t salt rubbed on all sides of the chicken
1 T olive oil

Heat the oil in the pan, then add the chicken, and saute over medium high heat. Observe! Do not move the chicken at all until it looks half cooked (about 7-10 minutes), then flip it over, and cook the other side. Do the meat check where you see if it is all opaque and not pink. It's ok to take it off a little bit before it is completely completely white because the chicken continues to cook even after you shut off the burner -- really. I used a few slices for lunch, and will probably end up making a curry chicken salad or a chicken, grape, and walnut salad this week. It also is great if you are having salad for lunch and need some chicken slices to round it out.

For the pasta, I boiled water, used some thin fettucine, and then sprinkled it with parmesan reggiano, olive oil, lemon juice and then I had some summer squash left over from breakfast that I put in.

Sunburst summer squash roasted

Take squash and dice into pieces and put onto a baking sheet with a little olive oil and a good crumble of sea salt. Roast for about 15 minutes.

Sunburst squash are really fun since they're shaped like UFO's. In fact I was calling them UFO squash until I looked it up just now. They're really delicious and I can't recommend them enough if you have the pleasure of finding them at your local farmer's market.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

the fastest way to au gratin

More orange food, should you even need any more convincing than that?

The inspiration of this dish is actually very Japanese (modern Japanese/West fusion -- Japanese are really into the rice gratin, and really into sweet potato) and then with the advent of the Moosewood cookbook style (also pan-everything).

Sweet Potato Rice Au Gratin

1/2 can of sweet potato puree
1/2 onion minced
knob of butter and bit of olive oil
1 cup uncooked short grained rice (I use nishikin white rice short-medium grained)
2 cups of chicken broth or veggie broth
1/2 cup of white wine or dry vermouth, sake or rice wine (I keep a bottle of Nolly Prat stashed for cooking),
Dry vermouth is what Julia Child always cooked with -- what a great lady.
2 inches square wedge of parmesan reggiano
1 cup of milk (any, I used skim)
4-5 slices of good extra sharp cheddar
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 t dried parsley if you have any
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

rice cooker

Cook the rice in the rice cooker with the mixture of chicken broth and wine instead of water (it takes about 20 minutes to cook up). Saute the onion in the butter/olive oil mix (the oil keeps it from burning), then add 2-3 sprigs of the thyme, if you have energy to bother with it, pick off the leaves and throw them in. I tend to half heartedly pick and then just throw the whole sprig in. Add the parsley, and fry it up for a minute or so. Take the cooked winey/broth infused rice, throw it in with the onions and herbs, when it is well mixed, add in the puree using water or broth to dilute to a soupy mix -- not too soupy, not too thick. At this point a good tip is to put the puree and broth/water mix into liquid measuring cup and pour out a little out at a time while coating the rice mix. I would err on the side of less sweet potato puree, since the dish is already going to be so wonderfully heavy in a comfort food fashion.

Then, in a gratin dish, or any dish you have with sides and is bakeable put the sweet potato rice mixture in stirring in the cup of milk and grated parmesan and spread out nicely. Add some slices of cheddar on top with some more thyme and broil until bubbling, and the cheese is satisfyingly browned and chewy, which is about another 15 minutes, but check/know your oven.

Serve with freshly ground pepper. If you'd like to get fancy, do these in small personal sized gratin dishes like the big ramekins. Serves four, I think.

This side dish could lean more towards Western or Japanese. This could very well go along with a bunch of izakaya dishes (Japanese Tapas) or could be readily served in a Vegetarian American meal, or even as a side dish to chicken.

Eat, and then happily sink into an orange food coma.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

trying just to make it through the fall

We've finally hit our cold snap and automatically, I turned to eating the most orangey thing I could think of: Carrot Ginger Soup. I also think this soup is probably a huge boost to the immune system.

Carrot Ginger Soup

2 lbs carrots (freshest you can find)
1/2 large onion minced
1 inch of ginger root
4 c chicken or vegetable broth
1 c water
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
juice of 1/4 of a lemon
1 c milk (any ... even unsweetened soy is fine)
Olive oil/butter

Optional toppings:

a dollop of sour cream
Parmesan Reggiano

Need blender, food processor or immersion blender (I use the last one).

Peel carrots and chop into coins, mince onion, mince ginger and put in a tea steeper. Heat a mix of olive oil and butter over medium high heat then add minced onion, and fry until transparent. Then add carrots, and fry until they turn a deeper hue of orange (about 8 minutes), make sure nothing burns. Add four cups of broth and one cup of water, heat to boil and then lower to a simmer. Simmer for about 30-45 minutes. Remove minced ginger in tea steeper, add perhaps half a teaspoon of ginger back into the soup, and blend -- please be careful, it's really hot. I usually place the lid as a sort of shield while I use the immersion blender.

After blended to a baby smooth texture, add milk, and lemon juice, and reheat. Taste and salt according to your preference.

Serve with some really good bread and maybe a salad.

Enjoy in good health.

Monday, October 03, 2005

one of my favorite breakfasts

My perfect breakfast consists of a perfect 3 minute soft boiled egg with freshly ground salt and pepper, a cup of dutch pressed cocoa, and toast with jam and butter.

Spicy Aztec Cocoa is my favorite from the Lake Champlain brand. I discovered it at Knit Cafe in New York (14th St. between 2nd and 3rd Ave).

I make my own cocoa when this one isn't available.

Spicy Dutch Press Cocoa Mix

1 T Dutch Press Cocoa
2 T Sugar
tiny bit of water for mixing
smidgeon of cayenne pepper
smidgeon of cinnamon

One needs to be extremely careful about overdoing the cayenne. As with all cooking, timing is key. I usually set the water on high with the egg in it, then wait until the water is just about to boil, set on the toaster, heat the milk in the microwave, and after three minutes of boiling, I take the egg out, butter the toast, and mix in the cocoa.

Today I had no jam (I prefer Bon Maman), so I just thinly sliced a ripe plum with a sprinkle of brown sugar and pecans on top of my toasted and lightly buttered bread.

Hopefully good breakfasts make for good interviews (ulp!)

Sunday, September 25, 2005

homemade chocolate milkshakes

When the weather is consistently 90 F and/or it's just been a tough day, there is nothing like the perfect chocolate milkshake. This milkshake is a spin off one I had in Stockholm, Sweden, and has been my favorite ever since.

Here is only the after picture, since it was too delicious to wait to down.

Joy's Best Chocolate Milkshakes Ever

Best Chocolate Ice cream
Whole Organic Milk
Chocolate Syrup

As I told my friend: chocolate ice cream, meet milk, milk, meet chocolate ice cream. The key is only add a little milk while mashing down the ice cream until it's at that nice thick consistency. I fill a glass with chocolate ice cream, and then add a little bit of milk, then mash until it's that right consistency, and try to err on the ice cream side, or else you'll just have a very sweet milky concoction.

Take a tall glass, and squirt chocolate syrup at the bottom, fill with the chocolate milkshake, and then add a generous lacing at the top, serve with a straw.

Fancy variation: Vanilla ice cream with half a teaspoon of crushed saffron, and whole milk. Take blackberry jam, and thin it with water over the stovetop until it is more like a sauce. Place blackberry jam sauce on bottom of glass. Pour newly saffron flavored milkshake over blackberry sauce in glass.

Monday, September 19, 2005

every good thing oatmeal

Every Good Thing Oatmeal

Oatmeal has been a longstanding favorite in my family, although, our tastes did run towards Quaker microwaveable oats. After going to brunch for more than a year in New York, I noticed that oats were taking a decided turn for the luxurious and decided to hop onto the oats as you've never seen them before train.

This recipe is straight from the produce I got from my local farmer's market and I'm sitting here eating this breakfast with a bouquet of snapdragons at my side. Enjoy the farmer's market and buying locally as much as you can.

half a white peach
handful of pecans
a tablespoon or less of light brown sugar
handful of raspberries
golden raisins (optional)

irish or scottish oats -- prepare stovetop according to directions
pinch of salt

I normally don't put as much salt in my oats as they do traditionally. This quick breakfast takes around fifteen to twenty minutes. Slice the peach into a ceramic oven friendly dish, sprinkle raspberries and brown sugar with pecans and set oven on broil. Make sure the pecans don't burn!

Cooking the oatmeal takes about 10-15 minutes, so by the time they're finished the peach/raspberries are probably deliciously roasted up a bit. I just tip the oatmeal on top of the peach/raspberry mix and mix in some golden raisins.

Eat in good health!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

the continuing breakfast question

Angela's Jammy Sandwiches

Well, these aren't actually Angela's. When we used to live together in New York one of her favorite snacks was brie and jam on crackers. Addressing the ever present question of "What should I eat for breakfast?" I decided to do my own take on Angela's snacks.

1 quarter of a ripe peach
4 thin slices of your favorite brie
wheat bread ends
4 pecans (optional)
dark brown sugar for sprinkling (optional

This was actually one of the best ways to use up the bread "heels." If you want to make them prettier and have pastry rounds, feel free to actually cut circles.

Set oven to broil (watch out if you do this in a toaster oven). Slice thinly the quarter of a the peach into four pieces. Using about half a piece of bread, line four muffin tins with bread pieces making sort of a cup, add brie, then peach slice, then pecan and light sprinkle of brown sugar. Heat through until the peach slices are baked, about 5-8 minutes depending on your oven.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

simple mushroom soup

I had been at Doma's earlier this year and enjoyed the simplest and yet most delicious soup I had had in a long time: mushroom soup. When eating it, I realized it was just a blended mushrooms in a brace of vegetable broth. I highly suggest you try this at home.

Simplest Mushroom Soup

2 baskets of mushrooms (I used button being on a budget) brushed off and sliced
1 medium onion minced
2 cloves of garlic minced or roasted garlic
4 c vegetable or chicken broth
Olive oil

Immersion blender

Mince onion, saute in olive oil over medium high heat until transparent. Add minced garlic for one minute until fragrant, add sliced mushrooms and saute until softened, add four cups of broth, bring to boil, and then simmer for 15-30 minutes. Use immersion blender until mushrooms are in small pieces. I like mushroom soup with goat cheese toasts (take good bread, spread goat cheese on and then toast in oven or toaster oven).

Saturday, August 20, 2005

I love oeufs

Eggs ... I love eggs.

Baked Eggs with Goat Cheese and Fresh Herbs
(purple basil, lemon mint, green onion, and cilantro, and an edible violet)

I love eggs nearly any way you can cook them: fried, sunny side up, poached, soft boiled, deviled.

However only in the past few years have I discovered the joys of baked eggs. The recipe is simple, takes a little bit longer to cook/bake, but in the end definitely worth the extra fifteen minutes.

Baked Eggs with Fresh Herbs

Two eggs
Soft goat cheese 1 oz
1 Shallot minced
Olive oil
Fresh Basil, Thyme, Cilantro (anything you have really)

Preheat oven to 400 F

Saute finely minced shallots until soft. Place in bottom of a generous sized ramekin, next place goat cheese, make little indentations for eggs, then crack the raw eggs over the top. Try to make sure that the yolk isn't touching the ramekin because it will bake too fast. Bake for 10 minutes until eggs are soft set.

Friday, July 29, 2005

The Dinner Omelette

My first dinner in Bangkok, my cousin took me around and around dozens of food stalls with innumerable tasty delights. Overwhelmed by all the choices, I finally asked my cousin to choose for me, and she brought me around to an omelette stall.

To me, the sweet chilli sauce is the necessary sauce to make it exactly the right taste. I have cut down the oil though significantly.

Thai Pork Omelette Kai Yad Sai

6 oz ground pork or chicken or oysters
1/2 ripe tomato diced
1/4 minced onion
2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 T fish sauce
1/4 t soy sauce
dash white pepper
3 eggs

Garnish: few sprigs of cilantro, red chilli finely sliced

Heat vegetable oil and add the minced pork with all the seasonings, then after it's fully cooked, then add tomato and onion for another two to three minutes, set aside.

Heat small pan and make a really thin egg crepe and cook on both sides, add a few tablespoon of filling and make a square. Garnish with cilantro and chilli.

Or mix in the filling with the egg if you can't be bothered to make individual omelettes.

Serve with Thai sweet chilli sauce and rice.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

everyone loves a mango

A meal in sunny California

It's so nice what one can do when you have the right ingredients, pantry, and good stove, pans.

Equipment really does matter, and especially sharp knifes for all the dicing

Yesterday I threw together one of my summer favorites, which I would suggest be served with grilled corn, and salad:

Chile Lime Tilapia with Mango Avocado Salsa

Mango Avocado Salsa
dice the following
1 ripe mango
1 avocado
1 tomato
1 lime
1/2 a red bellpepper
2 chopped scallions
1 small bunch of cilantro
salt and pepper

Just dice and toss, try not to eat it all before the fish is cooked. Also fantastic with tortilla chips, or try pineapple instead of mango, although omit the avocado if you're using pineapple.

Chile Lime Tilapia
2 tsp chile
1 lime
freshly ground black pepper
4 Tilapia fillets

Rub the fillets with 1/2 tsp chile powder on both sides, salt and pepper to taste (try not to undersalt), squeeze over with fresh lime juice.

In a saute pan over medium high heat, melt a small bit of butter for each fillet, cook around 4-5 minutes depending how thick the fillet is, flip once.

White Nectarine, Mint, Blueberry Salad

4 nectarines
half a pint of blueberries
drizzle of honey
handful of mint

Toss and serve.

Monday, July 25, 2005

From the Beginning

Thai Food for Ultra Ultra Beginners

That's right, I finally have access to a stove and no access to cheap Thai food anymore, so I'll be posting whatever Thai recipes I've tried out and will hopefully successfully pass on to others for similar Thai-food happiness.

Today, I've cooked up no less than Thai Rice Porridge or Khao Nam, which literally translates to Rice Water.

Thai Rice Porridge/Khao Nam

3 c cooked rice (preferrably jasmine)
2 c chicken broth
1 c water
1 stub of ginger (half an inch) smashed
2 cloves of garlic smashed, skins left on
1-2 tsp of fish sauce
1/4 c minced pork (can also use thin slices of chicken or small shrimp)

1/8 c finely minced scallions
1/8 c finely minced cilantro
onion flakes
chili oil
lime wedges
white pepper

optional: egg

With the ginger and garlic, you can put them in a tea filter and close it and take it out at the end if you want, I follow my mom's example and just leave them in to the hazard of anyone who might eat it accidentally. Believe me, a bite of a gingerroot doesn't have the same delicacy as the pickled ginger one eats with sushi.

Boil the broth and water, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, and crumble the pork into the soup until cooked, add the cooked rice and simmer at a low heat uncovered for 10-15 minutes until the rice is softened, but still rather separate.

If you'd like an egg poached in the soup, raise the heat to high and crack open a raw egg into the pot, and coddle.

The preparation of the rice soup is so easy that there really isn't an excuse not to ready the toppings, it's a simple, but very tasty start to the day.

the thai's have it

Eat Thai Style

Simply put, I lost about ten pounds in Thailand. I was thoroughly disheartened upon returning home and my family failed to exclaim over my newfound slimness.

Thailand is a great place to lose weight because most do without even noticing it or exerting or depriving oneself at all. I found myself wondering about why that was so, and how I could take full advantage of it.

First, I started putting toned muscle on again while doing ballet, but secondly I started to look at my diet during Thailand to see exactly how not trying in New York made me gain roughly five, and Thailand helped me lose twice as much (although with concerted effort).

Rudimentarily, putting muscle on always works because it's not just the work out that helps, but the continual higher burning of calories that muscles burn all the time. This starts to tip the scales (literally) in your favor.

The secret to eating Thai style:

1. Small portions, but often. I learned in Japan the same lesson too. Most of the time, you could probably eat a lot less.
2. Very little meat. The meat given in Thailand would make most Americans cry out in protest. Any given fried rice dish maybe contained four or five small shrimp, or slivers of meat.
3. Interesting taste, the fact that Thai food combines so much flavor and stimulation makes you not need to eat as much.
4. Sauces that are spice/broth based instead of cream based

In the month I lived there my dinners were always just a bit of meat, about equal portion of rice, and then I would eat vegetables and fruit until I was pretty much stuffed. I think I'm going to keep this ratio in mind for the rest of my life, but already it's proving quite difficult, seeing as the burrito I got from around the block at Alerto's was pretty much all meat, a wondrous chewy tortilla filled with guacamole, carnitas (roast pork), and cheese, with a zesty salsa ($4!). I've learned what pretty much all diets say, you can eat pretty much anything you want, but just a bit.

Monday, July 04, 2005

cool things

I just had a fabulous smoothie, and it couldn't get any simpler:

Blueberry Yogurt Smoothie Blitz

5 ice cubes
1 serving of blueberry yogurt

Use ice crush and blend until completely combined. Serve with a mint sprig if feeling fancy.

Friday, July 01, 2005

lazing in thailand

I'm sitting at the Daily Dessert Cafe once again in Chiang Mai. One of my Thai-American friends mentioned how startled he was about the occurrence of roti in Thai food vocabulary. I've learned the pleasures of the roti, and it's an easy way to combine Thai/Indian/Western tastes all at once practically.

Shrimp Salad Roti Rolls

Small cooked and peeled shrimp
mayonnaise (preferrably japanese style)
minced shallots
minced coriander
minced mint

Green curry paste
Coconut chutney

Assembled shrimp salad from above ingredients, roll up roti, daub a bit of green curry paste with coconut chutney, serve with lettuce tomato and cucumber.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

another day

Another day in Thailand, another heat rash.

I blame primarily a polyester based fabric I was wearing yesterday. I noticed that you can always tell the foreigners here by their copious amount of sweating. The Thais look unperturbed in the summer heat. The foreign girls always have their hair up up up, like the slightest strand of hair on their neck will send them riccocheting into heatstroke. It's very possible.

I heard it was unbearably humid in New York as well. So with little ado how to stay cool in Chiang Mai and New York City.

Daily Delight Cafe (Chiang Mai)

Daily Delight Cafe is a cosy yet open feeling cafe/house which serves mounds and mounds of shaved ice flavored with anything from coffee, to thai ice tea, to chocolate milk, even yogurt smoothie flavored! In the sensical nature of Asia, the shaved ice is topped with pretzel sticks, cute cookies, and has a base of bread cubes on the bottom. Surprisingly filling for just mouthfuls of cold sweet flavored shaved ice, it's a real steal for 20 Baht, or fifty cents. Daily Delight is located on the road that runs along Chiang Mai University south of Huay Kaew Rd. and is on the left if you're coming from the north with a bright orange and yellow awning.

Healthy Dessert (New York City)

Located on Center and Walker, the red sign is embellished in gold text declaring Hui Lau Shan or Healthy Dessert. Though I am immensely suspicious of their additions of bird's nest, I am always game to go there for my favorite drink -- a watermelon and coconut milk shake, made from fresh watermelons on the spot. It arrives after a short blitz luscious pink and creamy, and for only $2.

Stay cool, I'm trying my best to, too.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Breakfast in Thailand

After my weeklong stint in Tokyo, I finally arrived in Thailand. When I had decided to come to Thailand for the bulk of the summer, I talked to my friends dreamily about how I would eat tropical fruit for breakfast everyday. I've been here only for two breakfasts, but so far, so good.

Mangosteen or Man-koot in Thai

Mangosteen is a firm deep purple fruit that looks a little comical, round, maybe like something out of a Super Mario brother's video game, it has a little green hat. Like the litchee, you have to crack the tough exterior to get to the very sweet white fruit inside. Unlike the litchee, the interior fruit is soft, even softer than the consistency of mango. There's a slight dusky taste at the end of eating this fruit.

Litchee or Lin-chee in Thai

I would dare to say this is the tropical fruit that most have eaten in the U.S. However, in Thailand they have these huge raspberry colored scaley fruits which are the size of strawberries on steroids! My relatives laughed when I admired how big the litchees were here, and told me that this kind was called the King of Litchees. Indeed. The litchee has a flowery grapelike flavor and is chewy, again, the tough exterior needs to be peeled off before partaking.


Rambutan, is very similar to litchee except it has a wild haired mane of spiky protrusions over it's small round body. These harmless quills look a bit like neon porcupine quills, when fresh they are pink and green, when not as fresh they blacken.

Long An

Long An are smaller fruits than the litchee and rambutans. These have a cardboard brown stiff covering, and has the chewy white interior as well. Sometimes they'll have a slight rosy blush to the interior fruit. My relatives prefer these over the taste of the other bounty of fruits

Lo, and behold, I have been introduced to an entirely new fruit. It looks a bit like longan, but much bigger with a yellow and pink blushed cover. It is also peeled, but tastes a little more like rambutan with a softer fruit, but can be a little sour.

My favorite thai breakfast is tropical fruit with yogurt and soy milk. If I'm on an island, I'll top it off with an icy coconut shake or watermelon shake.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

homeless butternut squash soup

There comes a time when one is in between living situations and without a decent pantry. Scarcity of ingredients can be a problem, or not. But, at times, it can let the flavors really shine through.

Joy's In-Between-Homes Curry Butternut Squash Soup

1 onion minced
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 medium sized butternut squash cubes 1" pieces (peeled)
4-6 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
1 T Jamaican Curry powder
1 t olive oil
1 pkg of 3 cheese tortellini

On medium high heat, add olive oil, saute the onion until transparent, then add garlic and saute until fragrant, add curry powder. Add cubes of butternut squash, and add broth until covering cubes. Bring to boil and simmer for half an hour. Add salt and pepper to taste. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth minding the hot soup.

Prepare tortellini according to package, and add ~1/3 cup of tortellini to each bowl.

Lately, it's been rainy in New York, and soup is needed.

Monday, May 16, 2005

cold and sweet

Cold and Sweet Faves

My rule of thumb for getting through a New York summer, which is swamped with humidity somehow worsened by all the concrete and bad air convections, is to constantly snack on something nice sweet and chilly.

During any sunny and slightly warm day I will make every effort to be in the West Village so that I can buy CONES which serves an Argentinian sort of ice cream, which I always call gelato for the sake of simplicity.

I swoon over the dulche de leche, and my friends are crazy for their hazelnut. The texture of the helado is soft and creamy, like ice cream that is at the perfect firmness/softness for eating rapidly. My friend especially loves the grapefruit sorbetto, but I always indulge when I go. I´ve been known to chose helado over lunch. Tricks are when you get the 3 flavored cup, the first flavor will always be the largest serving.

On days when I can't make it somehow out to the Westside, which is probably good for the girth of my belly, I buy Edy´s Whole Fruit Strawberry popsicles. One of my friends said he hadn't had a popsicle in years. I can´t imagine life without popsicles. We used to eat freezies like nothing else. An odd thing we did in my family was pop the miniature asian jelly cups into the freezer and then pop them into our mouths like frozen grapes.

Though I have traditionally stayed cool with those two particular solutions, a friend of mine treated me to a huge scoop of ice cream from Emack & Bolio's in this luxurious waffle cone dipped in chocolate and toffee bar bits! Talk about decadent. Apparently, they hail from Boston. Apparently, they are very good at ice cream, too.

I might have to learn this helado business after I move away from New York. How else will I get my fix?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

tea rolls

With the warm weather I stop craving things like meatballs and lingonberry jam with steamed potatoes, or goulash with mounds of steamy egg noodles and cool sour cream. Nope, spring summer weather brings a curious change in appetite, much more of what I would say is the normative Californian diet.

In the little town of Amherst, there is a surprising amount of good restaurants and student budget friendly options. It was pretty hilarious when the friend I traveled with to the wedding and I tried to eat as much of the delights Amherst has to offer in the span of about six hours.

One of the best places to study or meet friends was Fresh Side Cafe. There one could eat some curiosities called Tea Rolls. These tea rolls, unbeknownst to me, actually originated with the Vietnamese summer rolls, but morphed in accordance with American tastes.

The secret charm of the tea roll is two fold, chewiness of the un-fried spring roll covering, and the pleasing fatness of the rolls.

The fillings are as wide as your imagination, just like onigiri, this is just another fun Asian spin on the sandwich.

Joy's Favorite Thai Tea Rolls

1 package of spring roll covers, about 10" x 10" *
Iceberg lettuce plunged into ice water
1 chicken breast poached sliced into wide flat matchstick pieces, about 1/3" thick
1/4 c finely chopped peanuts
Baby spinach leaves
Vermicelli noodles (prepared according to directions)*
Mint leaves

Rice vinegar
Fish sauce (Thai)*

Carrot curliques for decoration

*These can be bought at any Chinese Grocery like Dynasty Super Market which is located on 68 Elizabeth (Cross Street Hester).

If you have all the ingredients ready it takes no time to wrap them up, like say you already have a poached chicken breast in the refrigerator ... and pre-washed mint leaves, etc. Otherwise these are little more time intensive than I would like. Although, one should always try to buy fresh nuts. I'm not sure if they're readily available here in America.

Peel off a two layer stack off the spring roll covers, the key here is to not let the wrappers dry out -- once they dry out they won't be nicely chewy and won't wrap well either. I usually put a damp cloth on top of the wrappers.

Lay out the two stack high wrappers like a diamond, lay the lettuce, then spinach, then about a tablespoons worth of noodles, some pieces of chicken breast, then judiciously sprinkle the peanuts and maybe two or three mint leaves.

Here comes the crucial part. Squishing everything together so that it will look satisfyingly fat and compact. Believe me, a loose tea roll just lets all the ingredients fall out. Don't be disheartened if it takes some practice, it's a little similar to acquiring sushi rolling skills.

Take the two corners which will be the top and bottom of the roll and bring them to meet together while holding these down with your thumbs, grab the bottom corner, and pull it tightly up and around the filling, and tuck it in like a military bed sheet, meaning firmly. Then roll the roll into the top corner and smush it so that the top fastens to the rest of the roll.

Once the roll is closed, cut it in half and serve in a small bowl or plate.

In a very small sauce bowl, fill 1/8 with fish sauce, a dash of sugar, 1/4 with rice vinegar and then stir and mix with water to taste. Add carrot curliques to sauce and or serving bowl/plate.

Other very successful fillings are with ginger-soy-sesame-honey marinated tofu rolls, curry chicken salad, chicken walnut and grape salad filling, teriyaki chicken. The key here is to ensure the freshness is the bed of crispy lettuce.

These are not so filling mealwise, but then you'll just get hungry again in an hour and can eat something else equally yummy.

These don't keep, so serve them right away. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

japan and amherst and yale

I went out to my old college town Amherst for a wedding, and the thing that all of us had in common was that we had all lived or traveled in Japan. We had a wonderful time reminiscing about the onsens (the hot spring baths), and of course the delicious food there.

My friend asked me what I usually cook, and I answered that I like to cook Japanese food because the recipes that I know are pretty simple. I adapt a recipe from my favorite East Village izakaya Village Yokocho. An izakaya is a small plates Japanese restaurant. I actually read somewhere that the way tapas was invented is that they used to put plates on top of glasses, for what reason, I'm not certain, maybe to keep flies out. Then, they starting putting nuts on the plates, and then it evolved into the delicious garlicky seafood oriented dishes of the Spanish cuisine.

In any event, izakaya was developed as small appetizers that are salty that whet your appetite for more beer or sake, choose your poison. It was at Village Yokocho that I discovered this dish, but I simplified it even more, and made it lighter also.

Soft Tofu in Tempura Sauce

1/2 block of soft tofu
1 cup Tempura sauce* (follow directions on bottle)
Bonito Flakes*
1/2 inch of fresh ginger minced
3 scallions sliced thinly

*Buy at a store that carries Japanese products.

This effortless dish is so tasty and so quick to make. What actually takes more time is the rice to cook. When I know I'm going to cook asian food accompanied by rice, I usually put the rice on immediately. It's a bit like the concept of boiling the water for pasta also. I usually eat this dish with Nishikin short-medium grained rice, it's chewier than other rices, but not too chewy.

Prepare a cup of Tempura sauce (just dilute it according to the ratio on the bottle). Pour mixed Tempura sauce into medium sized microwave safe bowl, add the half block of soft tofu, and let it sit in the middle of the sauce, then add finely minced ginger to the top and sprinkle the scallions over the top and sides. Microwave for about 3 minutes on high, Serve immediately with a generous serving of bonito flakes on the top.

Good sides for this are steamed edamame, and maybe some boiled dumplings.

A recent favorite of mine are Kimchee Dumplings which you can buy at the Korean supermarket M2M, there's one on 11th and 3rd ave, and another by Columbia University on Broadway and 114th or so.

While visiting Yale, I went out to dinner with a dear friend of mine, yet another Amherst friend, and we went and ate at Miso, which only further demonstrated my love for strange American concocted sushi, and I fell heart deep in love with Spicy Tuna rolls wrapped in avocado. Yes, I do believe my love for raw tuna will beggar me eventually.

As requested, I'll be putting up recipes for tea rolls which I learned to love and savor in Amherst and Vietnamese summer rolls as well this week ...

Monday, May 02, 2005


The Café Search

Despite, or maybe, in spite of the ubiquity of Starbucks, there are a plethora of cozy cafés strewn around Manhattan and Brooklyn. I'm always on the look out for the best cafés to spend a lazy afternoon reading a good book with tea and maybe a pastry. I like my cafés to be cozy, with not too loud music. Ambience and good and reasonably price eats are my criteria.

Doma - West Village

Doma is well lit from natural light during the day. There is a pretty unfussy menu that simply tastes quite good. I believe I had a really delicious mushroom soup there once, which had clouds of mushroom bits held in a fine tasting vegetable broth served with a little bit of bread on the side. The rumble of the train is felt through the benches at the front. Doma is no secret though, not quite the place to go to be alone. It's cash only.

Mudspot - East Village

Mudspot is like the quintessential East Village sort of café. With a quaint little garden out back and huge mugs of their java and hot chocolate and the like, it's a popular destination for me. I'm not too fond of their lunch menu though, seems to be undersalted/underflavored, unfortunately. Mudspot also has a warm feel to it, with lots of orange, greens and blues. It's definitely worth going to for their generous drinks, but you might want to ask to add the sugar yourself. Also, cash only.

Teany - Lower East Side

Moby's café is pretty hip and modern with lots of white, but keeps from feeling too cold. Music is played at a medium level, and is, of course, pretty energetic music. This café is particularly known for its teas which they also sell at gourmet food stores like Whole Foods and the like. I had a fabulous teamochachino which was a fun alternative to the usual chai's. Extremely vegetarian and vegan friendly, the foods and sweet pastries are entirely of that sort. It's a little pricey, unfortunately, but what else could you expect in the Lower East Side? They take credit, but minimum $10.

Ceci-Cela - Soho

I read recently that there's nothing New Yorkers like so much as a big fake French bistro. I would have to hold to that that is true, and I would probably repeat that statement that we also like fake French cafés, seeing that I'm very charmed by the French-ness of this particular café. After all, the French invented cafés, no? That's probably not true. The service here is pretty awful though. The mood is very cute and quaint, and I love their French Lemonade with bubbles, and dark chocolate truffles, but the waiters here tend to be terribly rude and difficult to get ahold of (on several occasions), and will serve you drinks in paper cups even when you're not taking it to go. Otherwise, it's throughly enchanting. I'm pretty sure it's cash only, as well.

Knit New York - Gramercy/Flatiron

Knit New York can be a difficult place to find. One must sort of have one's eyes sharpened for the pale green sign/awning and the basement level entrance. It was at Knit that I discovered Lake Champlain's Spicy Hot Chocolate, which I now have bought make at home. They've got the most delightful coconut cupcakes which are tiny, but stacked high with generous frosting. They've also a wonderful assortment of teas. Pretty reasonably priced as well. They had quite good soups the previous times I've been there. Knit is overwhelmingly frequented by women, for the most part. I think still cash only.

Hungarian Pastry Shop - Morningside Heights

This café is entirely not about style in the least. I've got complaints against most of their pastries, but I do love their very dark hot chocolate, and they'll even serve it over ice for you. The Hungarian is extremely inexpensive, and is probably one of the few places where you can get a bottomless cup of coffee. I can't vouch for the coffee since I'm not a coffee drinker. The Hungarian has got a reputation for writers taking advantage of their relaxed seating policy, they don't mind if you stay and stay, and there's an article up along the wall showing some of the books which have been written by authors who frequented the place. They've nice sidewalk tables in good weather, but you have to be on the prowl for them during high traffic times. The place in general is quite crowded with tables and chairs. The bathroom has got lots of political statements written all over it too. Cash only.

Even though I do have my stock of good cafés, I'm always looking for more, especially with good outdoor seating now that the weather is finally getting warmer.

Friday, April 29, 2005

panseared salmon

So, a funny thing happened while I was pan-searing today. Let's just say I'm happy there was no eyebrow singeing.

According to various magazines, it's no good to eat farmed salmon. The difference between farmed and wild is that wild salmon spend a lot of time exercising and eating sea things, and farmed salmon are fat lazy fish. Restaurants prefer the farmed salmon because they are fattier and are moister and much more forgiving than wild salmon. But, as the credo goes, more flavor, smaller portions, and more appreciation.

The Perricone diet suggest four servings a week. Well, eating salmon is no problem for me. Recently I've become a lot more fond of raw salmon, and have had many cravings for Mangia's Seared Tuna Nicoise Salad. Turns out that my Pan-seared Salmon is just as good and flavorful as Mangia's Nicoise. I just needed a flavorful fish.

So, with meaning to pan-sear, I marinated my wild sockeye salmon (very red!), apparently the more naturally red the fish is, the better it is for you. I feel like I'm repeating a T.V. program I've seen on this. Farmed salmon doesn't give same benefits as wild salmon. Wild salmon is extremely pricey, though.

Pan-seared Wild Salmon Marinated in Honey Soy Citrus sauce with Avocado Salad & Vinaigrette.

1 lb Wild Salmon
2 T Soy sauce (Japanese)
2 t Wildflower honey (a theme is emerging)
1/2 Lemon juice freshly squeezed
1 t Sesame oil

Put everything together in a container and left it in the refrigerator for several hours. Then I heated up the nonstick pan on high. I'm certain if you do this right, you won't get the same result. I melted about a tablespoon of butter, and when I put the fillet on, there was a pan fire. I'm pretty sure that pan-searing does not involve high bright orange flames. So, to be on the safer side if you're going to use butter, add a little olive oil as well, and stay back.

Searing takes only a few minutes (1-2), and with wild salmon it cooks extremely fast, depending on the thick or thinness of the fillet it’s only a minute or two since the inside will be raw still. Serve with mixed greens, ripe avocados slices, and your favorite balsamic vinaigrette. This should serve about two portions for dinner. Make sure you include some fresh fruit and maybe some nuts for dessert.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


The cherry blossoms are open at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.

Apparently they've been on the verge of opening all week, but I've been a bit distracted. In Tokyo, this is a wonderful time where the Japanese become a lot happier. I wonder if it reminds them of falling in love.

Or getting really drunk with their friends and/or co-workers.

Hanamae means flower in Japanese. In Tokyo they have hanamae parties, where they sit under the cherry blossom trees and have picnics. I'm sure young lovers have the more romantic type, and others have the ones more focused on drinking. Many Japanese people have a very low tolerance for alcohol in my personal experience.

A very easy and common picnic food is Onigiri or Rice Balls, as they say in English.

Onigiri is simply the equivalent of a sandwich in America. Meaning, you can put pretty much whatever you want to taste as the flling. Or as my Japanese friend calls it, "your treasure."

Making these can be very easy with the aid of an Onigiri shaper, which can be bought at Sunrise Mart. However, it's equally easy shaped in some plastic wrap.

Optional is a piece of nori. One needs to cut up nori squares into elongated rectangular strips.

Joy's Tuna Salad Avocado Onigiri

1 cup of cooked Short-Medium Grain Nishikin rice (I use a rice cooker)
1/4th of a small onion finely minced
1 can of tuna
Mayonnaise to taste
Spicy mustard to taste
freshly ground pepper
lemon (optional)
1/2 ripe haas avocado large diced
3 sheets of nori cut into long rectangles

Onigiri shaper or plastic wrap

The architecture of the onigiri is like this: pad of rice, tablespoon of filling, second pad of rice. Squish. Most onigiri are formed in plump triangles, or flatten spheres. Also, please note that the filling needs to be flavorful enough so that the rice

For me, two or three of these babies will fill me up for lunch. They travel pretty well. Another thing to note is keeping the nori separate until you're going to eat the onigiri, otherwise it gets a little moist and less crunchy.

Other fillings I enjoy: spicy tuna salad (use the chinese chili condiment to mix with the tuna), bonito and american cheese. You can also season the rice with rice seasonings and mix it up and have no filling (no treasure!).

Suggestions for a Japanese Picnic:

Thermos of Ice Jasmine Green White Peach Tea
Fresh Melon slices

A few Japanese phrases:

Oishi - delicious
Onaka ippai - I'm full

and don't forget Itadakimasu! Which is a sort of thank you for the food meaning literally, "I will receive," but means roughly "Let's Eat!"

Monday, April 25, 2005

The Burger Bonanza

The Burger Bonanza

"Why eat it if it hasn't any cheese on it?"

The great thing about food is that it can be as exciting as something like, say, birdwatching. I'm serious, birdwatching can be a complete adrenaline rush. Not that I particularly birdwatch, but think about the thrill of finding that elusive special rarely seen bird.

Although I'm no diligent birdwatcher, I take much pleasure in finding the best eats in the city. I have a mental catalog which I finger through whenever a particular craving comes to mind.

One hunger features strongly when the weather turns warmer: the burger, and in my case, the cheeseburger. Why eat it if it hasn't any cheese on it?

I have to admit, I haven't been chasing the burger trail as much as one would expect a foodie to, looking for that great American hamburger, but it's difficult when you've found what you consider already the perfect burger.

The Burger Joint (housed in Le Parker Meredien) is my favorite place to go to for a delicious eat. Just one fills me right up, then add in the fries and chocolate milkshake and I'm up to about feeling "oof". Features include mustard with zing, satisfyingly fat pickles, and made on the spot milkshakes. I find it extremely reasonably priced for New York. The Burger Joint is cherished by many not only for the burgers, but for the slight irony of a local collegiate-like hangout in the swank all mirrors and marble Le Parker Meredien hotel. There is only burger or cheeseburger here, vegetarians can take their business elsewhere.

The Shake Shack which is actually vegetarian friendly, has a "special sauce." Run by well known Chef Danny Meyer, and voted Best Burger from the New York Metro, I did have to try it. This smallish, but very tasty burger does have that nice crispy edge to it; what I would like to call crunch meat bits. I'm definitely going back, but it did more damage than Burger Joint. Pluses include outdoor dining in Madison Square Park. I also heard a new art exhibition is opening up in Madison Square Garden soon.

The Corner Bistro I checked out this weekend with a chum. Weighing at 8 oz. of beef, this meat beast of a hamburger was too much for me to handle. I ate half, heaved a heavy sigh, and gave up the fight. Again, with the irony. Bistro sounds very snooty, but the place was quite the opposite. The scene was a little too rowdy for me on a Saturday night. Chum said that the bar was serving burgers well into the night, so that's worth noting if you'd like an extremely large burger.

Woefully, I might add, is In-n-Out burgers missing here in Manhattan. Why, when we have dozens of McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King's, but no In-n-Out? Any fellow Californian will vouch for me on this one, that In-n-Out has a very special place in our hearts. For those of you whom have never had the happiness of an In-n-Out burger, it's not only the burger, which is great, especially Animal style (with minced caramelized onions), but also the fact that so many others have felt the exact same happiness with their burgers, shake and fries, arranged in the exact same configuration, and a little too hot for their lap to handle, in the same white thin open cardboard box.

Another burger place to note in the city according to my friend is Puck Fair, which does a good burger and beer deal in the afternoon.

Chow happy!

Friday, April 22, 2005

All things Thai-ish

All things Thai-ish

Being half Thai, usually the first comment someone makes about this is, "Oh, I love Thai food." to which I chime in, "Me too!"

Unfortunately, I didn't grow up on Thai food, but rather my mom's version of Chinese food, which probably is rather Thai influenced, and a random assortment of the regular American foods. I was no stranger to Kraft's boxed macaroni.

I am completely and utterly in love with Thailand, and upon returning I immediately asked my mother why she even left. Thailand is so lush, replete with orchids, and as much tropical fruit you can eat ...

Thai's don't quite understand the American enchantment of ripe mangoes with sticky rice. That would be like a foreigner gushing to us, "Oh, I love Apple Pie!"

We would probably say, yes, apple pie is quite nice, but wouldn't you like to try molten-chocolate cake? Or dulche de leche ice cream with ginger toffee crisp and lemon foam? I just made that last one up, but I'm puzzled by all the foam that is going on these days on gourmet plates. Oyster foam, anyone?

Actually, Thai's are well known for their garnishing skills, apparently my mom had to take a class on how to make flowers of carrots and radishes and the like. Being schooled here in America, I took Home-Ec, which taught me nothing I remember.

My mom always had us eat fresh fruit after dinner, which is both a Chinese and Thai thing to be fair. I was fortunate to grow up with my mom's view on eating as much fruit as possible, and Californian produce. One of the loveliest things my mom gave me while I was living abroad both in Sweden and Japan, was that she lent me her fruit knife, which is about as old as me, which she bought on vacation in Japan. I've tried to find one like it, with its sharpness and beautiful but homey design, but to no end. She always would cut up fresh fruit for us on our cartrips, the fresh fruit making the long trips a little bit more bearable.

Last summer I finally got around to trying out and making (by special request) Khao Niew Ma-Muang or Mango with Sticky Rice. This recipe falls into tier 2, which means I don't make it very often since it takes quite a bit of planning and ripe mangoes lying about.

The Thai grocery store in Manhattan is in Chinatown on Moscow and something, you might have to traipse down Elizabeth to get there. First things first. Make certain you buy the sticky rice, and not another kind of rice.

Khao Niew Ma-Muang or Mango with Sticky Rice.

1 1/2 cups sticky rice
1 1/3 cups well-stirred canned unsweetened coconut milk
1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted lightly
1 large mango

Rinse the rice in cold water until the water is clear. This will take around 6 times? Then, soak rice in cold water to cover overnight, or at least 4-6 hours.

Drain rice well in a sieve. Place the sieve over a large deep saucepan of simmering water (sieve should not touch water) and steam rice, covered with a kitchen towel and a lid, 30 to 40 minutes, or until tender (check water level in pan occasionally, adding more water if necessary). If you have bought the

While rice is cooking, in a small saucepan bring 1 cup coconut milk to a boil with 1/3 cup sugar and salt, stirring until sugar is dissolved, and remove from heat. Keep mixture warm.

Put cooked rice to a bowl and stir in coconut-milk mixture. Then let the rice stand covered, for 30 minutes, or until coconut-milk mixture is absorbed. (This is quite cool to watch).

While rice is soaking up the coconut milk, in a small pan slowly boil remaining 1/3 cup coconut milk with remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, stirring occasionally, 1 minute. Transfer sauce to a small bowl and chill until cool and thickened slightly.

About 4-6 servings

I don't make Thai food in general very often, which is quite sad, but I think I'm a little intimidated by the many many ingredients in order to make their very lively and tasty pastes, which are the basis of a lot of wonderful Thai recipes.

I'm going to have to investigate the Khanom Jeen situation at the Thai grocery store, and I'm still looking for that perfect Khao Soi recipe.

As they say in Thai, Gin! Gin! (which means eat! eat! as my Thai Aunt would encourage.)

Thursday, April 21, 2005

wowza the steamer basket

Wowza, the steamer basket!

I woke up extremely late this morning since I was formatting and editing this website (ask me about my 3 in the morning coding epiphany if you're nerdy enough to rejoice with me on this one) until the wee hours of the morning. Instead of breakfast, I've got "healthy lunch".

I lived in Tokyo for about a year, and that has heavily influenced my kitchen habits: eating, and utensils etc, in addition to my Asian (Thai-Chinese) upbringing. So this morning, still under the Perricone credo, I scanned my memory for things appropriate to this diet.

I actually cheated yesterday eating Grammie's Macaroni & Cheese from The Chip Shop, and to be fair, I *tried* to eat the protein first. I nosed under the gooey buttery mac 'n cheese to the sausage bits and ate them *with ketchup* which qualifies for that weird thing where the more processed tomatoes are, the healthier it is in fighting cancer. Don't ask me why, I just read the articles.

I still feel like a beginner with cooking. I am known among my friends for being a good cook, but as usual, my method in life is picking the most complicated things to do first, and bumbling around a bit, instead of being a more traditional learner and start out with something simple. Like when I started with knitting lace, hmmm, yes, that was a wee bit confusing, or submitted poems to The New Yorker (rejected! And they only allow you to submit every 6 months).

In any event, this is why I was overawed by the steamer basket this morning!

I eat lightly salted edamame (in pod, in situ, the hairyness is so much more fun), as my veggie/protein supplement as often as I can remember to eat it.

First, I buy frozen edamame from the Japanese Grocery Store Sunrise Mart, you can usually buy them for $1 a bag, and then cook up half a bag (since I am only one small Joy), and depending on how hungry I am, eat most of it, and refrigerate the rest for quick snacks.

You'd be surprised, if you're not from Manhattan, how much Japanese restaurants will charge you for edamame, upwards to $8. Criminy.

I noticed my roommate had steamed her asparagus the other morning in the steamer basket. I had made aspargus-edamame risotto the other day and used the boiling method.

Asians are big on steaming. We steam rice in rice cookers, steam to finish off cooking dumplings, most of dim sum is steamed in bamboo baskets, tied up in banana leaves. My mom has me steam cook the tops of my eggs (as evidenced by yesterday's posting), you steam sticky rice to make fabulous mango sticky rice. I've heard you can steam veggies atop of rice in your rice cooker. I'm a little suspicious still, but haven't tried it yet.

The traditional way of making edamame is steamed in one of their pretty straw woven baskets which you can buy at my favorite Japanese outlet store, again Samurai on Grand St., cross street Mott.

However, I usually just boil water and then throw in the frozen edamame for 3 minutes, but that's only after the pot has come to boil.

How to Make Edamame - Steamed Fresh Soybeans

This morning I boiled one inch of water, which of course came to boil really quickly, plopped down the steamer basket, which always looks like a fun metal flower blossoming and closing alternately, and put in half a bag of edamame. Then I set the timer for 3 minutes. I also covered the pot for the full steaming effect.

I was completely astonished how quick the whole process was. At three minutes it was still a little too crunchy for my taste. My friend Lynn prefers them that way, but I prefer a little softer than that, so within 1 more minute voila! Edamame strewn with sea salt.

Other efforts at health included a mango lassi. However, mango is on the inflammatory list for Dr. Perricone (sorry!), but organic yogurt is on the plus list. However, there is a lot of sugar in mango lassis, admittedly, but that's why they taste so good. I had a spot of iced jasmine-green tea, and I zapped some shu mai I bought at Sunrise Mart, which have shrimp in them. Perricone highly suggests salmon or crab, shrimp is my mild attempt to get along with his recommendations. Remind me to put up my roasted garlic salmon and goat cheese dumplings with french mustard recipe up eventually.

One thing that bothered me to no end were Swedish ceramics when I lived in Stockholm. They had no little bowls for garnishes or sauces. Swedes generally have some gravy sort of sauce or flavored butter (Swedish butter is divine!). However, if you're going to eat shu mai or dumplings, you really need a dipping bowl to control over-salting or over-moistening your food.

Going along with the French Women Don't Get Fat edict, my breakfast set up is very prettily. Here are some things I bought from Samurai to help me Japanize my kitchen for very little money (most items cost around $1.29 - $5).

Used in my lunch today bought from Samurai:

2 straw baskets, one for edamame, one for edamame empty shells
1 pair of orange stripey chopsticks (no Jared, you can't have them)
1 pink plastic small bowl (so many uses)
1 green plastic child cup
1 wooden Japanese style mat

It might also help that everything they sell is quite small, which helps you eat less, I think.

Used in my lunch today bought from Sunrise Mart (The East Village location is less expensive than Soho)

Frozen Edamame
Itoen Jasmine-Green Tea
Frozen Shu Mai

Another thing that Perricone suggests is that all spicy things are very healthy for you. I had the chance to try unadulterated harissa on my omelet the other day, woo, too spicy! I decided this morning to add some hot chili sesame oil to my soy sauce and dab a little harissa on my shu mai.

In light of the no white flour rule, I think that they should start making brown flour wrappers since all dumplings are usually wrapped in white flour skins. Although the amount of skin is pretty minimal in shu mai, not dumplings/potstickers/gyoza/mandoo though.

For the warm weather I'm going to post a few of my favorite combating summer heat cool drink recipes.

Mango Lassi

Mango pulp (buy at Indian/Pakistani stores)
Whole Yogurt (the Indian yogurt was the best, but try to buy yogurt that doesn't have pectin)
Skim Milk

The ratio is 1:3 mango pulp to yogurt, then thin it out with milk, and add sugar to taste. I bought a great little plastic pitcher, again, from Samurai (I'm crazy about that store I tell you). Since the plastic is clear you can eyeball everything, then I just snapped close the lid and shook it until everything was mixed, and I used a chopstick too (heehee, so Asiany).

White Peach Iced Jasmine-Green Tea Frappe

Itoen Jasmine-Green Tea (it comes in 2 liter bottles at Sunrise Mart), use maybe a liter
Ripe white peach (skinned, peeled, I suppose you could freeze them too)
Tray of ice cubes
Peach nectar (Goza)
Mint leaf for garnish (optional)

The ratio of tea to juice is about half and half. Using a blender with a stellar ice crusher function, blend together. You can get about 3-4 glasses from this concoction. A glass of this sold at Afternoon Tea in Shinjuku for about $8. Another option which is more Chinese-y is to use Litchee Juice insteach of Peach, etc. al.

Mango Lime Fizzer

This is inspired of the sorbet sipper at Haagen Daaz

Mango nectar (again Goza)
Perrier (get lime flavored if possible)

Ratio is 1:1 for the fizzer, I never realized Perrier has such delicious little bubbles. Garnish with an orchid if you'd like.

Another variation is peach nectar with perrier, serve over ice and a few fresh raspberries on the top.

Strawberry-Cranberry Frappe

1 tray of ice
Cranberry juice
Half a bag of frozen strawberries

Just blitz it up, it's very yummy.

How to glam up your drinks

It's simple, buy straws. Serve these drinks over ice or not, but in a long slim glass with a straw and with a garnish that makes sense.

Those are my main summery cooling off drinks. To finish off my healthful lunch, I'm going to eat a quartered navel orange sprinkled with cinnamon and pecans. Itadakimasu!