Tuesday, November 28, 2006

creme au caramel of my heart

Though I mainly try to concentrate on cooking healthy foods, every once in awhile, I enjoy a nice creamy dessert. This French version of flan is called Creme Au Caramel and is both decadent, but surprisingly easy to make.

As Nigella Lawson discusses, the airy creaminess is abetted by a hot water bath. This is simpler than it sounds, trust me.

Creme Au Caramel

1 c whole milk
1 c heavy whipping cream
4 eggs
1 cup of white sugar divided into 1/2 cups
vanilla bean or vanilla extract (1 t)
pinch of salt

shallow baking pan
six medium sized ramekins

Pre-heat oven to 325 F

Boil water in a kettle or electric kettle.

In a heavy bottom pan melt 1/2 c of sugar and swirl pan until the sugar has turned to a gold brown carmel color and dispense between the ramekins evenly trying to coat the bottoms. Don't worry if doesn't completely cover the whole surface since it will melt during the baking anyway.

If using the vanilla bean, slice and scrape the seeds into a saucepan with the whole milk and cream. Otherwise bring mixture to a near boil. Watch for tiny bubbles that emerge at the edges of the cream and milk mixture.

In another bowl break open the eggs and mix thoroughly. When the cream mixture is ready pour gradually into the bowl while mixing. Then, add 1/2 c of sugar to the mixture and 1 t of the vanilla extract (if not using the vanilla bean) and the pinch of salt.

Place ramekins in the shallow baking pan and fill with egg custard mixture. Then, place the entire pan into the oven and then add the boiling water so that it covers the ramekins at half their height.

Check ramekins after 15-20 minutes with a knife. When the knife comes out clean remove and let cool to room temperature. Can be served either at room temperature or chilled.

For some reasons these creamy delights taste better the next day chilled to me.

Oh yes, and use a butter knife to loosen the creme au caramel and upend on a plate. Be careful of the caramel sauce!

Bon appetit!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

well wed

It was from my meatball and sausage loving sister that I first came upon the concept of "Italian Wedding Soup."

Not unexpectedly, I took extremely well to this clear chicken broth based soup which is much like the soups of my childhood. Chinese and Thai culture both use their fair share of clear chicken stock.

Reading about Italian Wedding Soup various sources disclosed that it is not actually a soup for weddings but likely a misinterpretation of Minestra Maritata. Maritata means that the ingredients go well together or "well wed."

The charm of this soup besides its name is that it's extremely fast and filling. Make sure you've got pre-made meatballs though!

Italian Wedding Soup

2 t olive oil
1/2 a minced onion
1 package of small frozen meatballs
1 t dried oregano
1 t dried majoram
1 t dried basil
2-3 minced garlic cloves
1 bunch of escarole or spinach or chicory (any blend of) rinsed well and torn into bite sized pieces (don't worry about this too much)
2 carrots peeled in coins
1 chopped celery stalk
4 c chicken broth
1 chopped tomato
1/4 c parmesan reggiano

salt and freshly ground black peppar to taste

optional: orzo (a rice shaped pasta)
or serve with crusty bread

Make orzo according to the directions.

In a large pot heat the olive oil then add frozen meatballs to brown. Once they've started to brown on all sides, add minced onion and continue to fry. When the onions begin to turn translucent add the dry spices and garlic and sautee for another minute. Add the spinach, carrots, and celery and fry for another two minutes. Add the chicken broth to cover the meatball/vegetable mixture and add the tomato. Bring mixture to a boil and then lower heat to simmer the soup for at least half an hour.

Add parmesan reggiano before serving.

Italian Wedding Soup is particularly well wedded to Swedish culture also because you'll seldom find a freezer without some pre-made meatballs. I have to admit we had no orzo and used another Swedish standby -- the potato which you can toss in earlier as well if you're more for the even-more-sticking-to-your-ribs sort of one course meal.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

shades of atkin's farm

It's fall here in Stockholm, and the sweet smell of the leaves I trample makes me long for New England and cider and cider donuts.

As much as I yearn to go out to Amherst, MA and gobble down some cider doughnuts brushed with cinnamon and sugar goodness, dunking them in cold cider, I cannot.

So I made myself some apple cider oatmeal. Not the same thing, but chock full of apple cider-y goodness.

To make this very simple breakfast just use half cider for the amount of water you would normally use. After oatmeal is finished sprinkle the top liberally with dark brown sugar and cinnamon and some crushed pecans.

Monday, October 16, 2006

how to eat a yellow curry

Sometimes you have to go "old school." On a chilly fall day, there's nothing better than a steaming warm plate of yellow curry.

My sister and I discussed how homey the taste of yellow curry is to us. We were raised on the stuff. Curiously enough, there is both a Chinese and a Thai version of yellow curry. I'm pretty certain it was adopted from Chinese culture to Thai culture since yellow curry is seldom very spicy (hot). Yellow curry is a perennial favorite in our family and we often tried to eat as much of it as possible.

Here's my best version. I'm going to need to insist that if you do try this recipe, it's very important to use dark chicken meat, otherwise the curry won't taste right. White meat gets too tough, whereas dark meat only becomes more tender. Like with many other stewed dishes, the curry will taste better on the next day.

Thai Yellow Chicken Curry

1 t salted butter
1 t olive oil
1 lb of chicken thigh or chicken drumstick, skin on, bone in
2 large potatoes in 1 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 13 oz can of coconut milk
1 inch of fresh ginger peeled and minced.
2 fat cloves of garlic minced
1 small white or yellow onion minced (or 4 shallots)
1 red pepper sliced into thin slices
2 T yellow curry powder (or 1 T of yellow curry paste)
3-4 c chicken broth
(optional: 1 t sugar, soy sauce or fish sauce to taste, cayenne pepper)

Heat a heavy bottom pot to medium high and melt the butter and olive oil. Then, place chicken thighs and or drumsticks skin down. The key to getting a nice browned crust is using completely dry meat and to leave the meat in place long enough (about 5 minutes on each side). Brown on all sides and remove meat.

Instructions for curry paste:

Over medium heat fry the curry paste in the same pot until it is quite fragrant and heated through and then add the minced onion. Be careful that it does not burn.

Instructions for curry powder:

In the same pot, sautee the minced onion in the juices left in the pan. Once the minced onion is translucent, about 6-8 minutes, making sure they do not burn, add the curry powder.

Add the minced garlic and fry for another minute. Add the chicken broth, chicken, red pepper and ginger to the pot. For the coconut milk, do not shake or mix, but divide the coconut cream on top out and add only half the liquid part. Save the coconut cream.

Bring curry to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Simmer for at least one hour. I usually simmer the curry for at least 2-3 hours before eating.

Add the potatoes half an hour before serving.

Before serving, add half of the reserve coconut cream and make certain that the curry does not boil since this makes the coconut cream separate.

Taste the curry adding sugar or soy sauce or fish sauce and/or cayenne pepper and season it to taste.

Serve over jasmine rice. Approximately 3 servings. Obviously, it is also good to double this recipe in order to be able to fight over the leftovers.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

not for the risk averse

I couldn't resist ... not for the faint of heart.

Despite my miniscule kitchen replete with miniscule refrigerator and oven, I finally whipped together the most scrumptious dish:

Creamy Kim Chi Risotto

3 cups of cooked medium grain rice (I use Nishikin)
3 green onions chopped
1 clove garlic minced
sesame oil
2 t olive oil
3 t soy sauce
1/2 c kim chi roughly chopped
2 T red pepper paste
four small potatoes already boiled cut into small pieces
1/4 c cream or kesella (something we have here in Sweden)
2 c chicken broth
1/4 c shredded cheddar

In a medium sized pan bring 2 t of olive oil to high heat then add green onions, garlic and potatoes. Fry for 2 minutes. Then add the rice and chopped kim chi with the red pepper paste until all is evenly distributed for about at least 5 minutes. Then add chicken broth to cover the rice mixture. Add soy sauce to taste. When mixture has boiled for 10 minutes add cream or kesella and then add the cheddar at the very end.

I'm pretty much over the moon for this dish. Serve immediately!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

pardon the transition

Unfortunately, this post is not about food.

There's a bit of a hiatus going on while I resettle into Stockholm, Sweden, but I will keep the page updated when I figure out which venue I'm pursuing in the food writing or travel writing department. Until then, smaklig måltid which is Swedish for have a tasty meal.

Friday, August 04, 2006

video killed the radio star ...

Sorry for the long silence! I finally got my hands on the DVD of my food tv shows which were released in NorthWest Arkansas, and I can finally present them to my small but faithful readership here.

Hope you enjoy the show as much as I had fun making it!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

anatomy of kimbap

As soon as you start eating any number of cuisines, you realize that one dish in one cuisine serves the same function as it does in another. For example, the purse phenomenon. We love food buttoned up onto satchels whether it's ravioli, pierogis, chinese dumplings, mandoo, mantoo, the russian dumplings. Eating these is always a little more special because of the extra work it takes to stuff food into various kinds of pastas.

A more everyday food Americans love to eat is the sandwich. When it crops up in other cultures, it's easy to feel a pang of familiarity. The Japanese use the same principles of hand-friendliness (nori wrapper), a carbohydrate to make your belly feel full (rice), and something to flavor it (meat/fish/roe). The French have their tartines. The Koreans have their kim-bap.

In addition to loving sandwiches, there's a peculiar delight to things in miniature as well. This accounts for the pinky fingernail sized mini tacos served as hor d'oeuvres.

Korean Kimbap gives us all of those things, mini sandwiches in each bite. This beef roll is filled with tasty bulgogi (soy sauce marinated beef), scrambled egg, carrots, pickled daikon (radish), cooked spinach, wrapped in rice and nori and brushed with the essence of sesame oil. For the squeamish about raw fish, one can eat these very easily since everything is cooked inside kimbap.

My sister maintains that sandwiches made by other people always taste more delicious. I maintain the same about kimbap rolls.

The words Kimbap mean separately kim which means nori or toasted seaweed and which is the korean word for rice.

I've had great success finding delicious kimbap at E-mo on 32nd St. between 6th and 5th Avenue. Look for the black awning. Each order is a scant $5 and a filling and healthy meal.

I've tried both beef and cheese (some gooey orange cheez-wiz substance), and beef wins hand down. For those whom have satiated their beef kimbap fill, there's spicy tuna and etc. rolls for the curious.

For a quick and easy lunch drop by E-mo. You might run into me in the midst of one of my kimbap cravings.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

a bouchon, please?

"What is a bouchon?" I asked approaching the ravishing display of pastries.

Apparently, bouchons are these rich chocolatey mini cakes which are right between the texture of a dense cake and brownie with a center of soft chocolate chips inside. They immediately hit the chocolate spot.

After eating the bouchon, I had to go back and investigate more and went there for lunch.

Who wouldn't want to investigate after looking at that pastry case. I ordered their soup and sandwich. First off, it's wonderful that Bouchon Bakery understands that sometimes you just want some tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. I love grilled cheese sandwiches so much that I both wrote a poem about them, and cite "He Made Me a Grilled Cheese Sandwich Last Night" by Lauren Rathvon as one of my favorites.

I loved the pointy ended breads they serve you to munch on with salted butter before your entree comes, but I wasn't overly impressed with my soup and sandwich, although if I do go again, I might try one of their salads or sandwiches. But I guess I'll stick to bouchons in the meantime. At two dollars a pop, you can be sure I'm going to be stopping by often.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

no cook cooking

There's a delightfully lazy season we call summer.

In it, we put much effort into not putting hardly any effort into cooking at all. We're very lucky that farmer's markets are bursting with sweetly ripened fruits and vegetables so that putting as little energy into cooking still gives us delicious meals.

Here is a meeting of tasty ingredients: two slices of quality bread (sourdough in my case, but any wheat dense bread would be good), a soft Danish blue cheese, thin slices of a tart apple (Crispin), and fresh pecans. I toasted my bread first. True, it is a little bit more of an effort, but why buy such nice bread without crisping up the outer crust?

Remember to keep your nut meats in the refrigerator or the freezer because the oils in the nuts can spoil.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

cool hits of summer

I think I'm going to have to list top twenty ways best ways to cool off during summer.

The Chocolixir from Godiva is hands down the best chocolate milkshake I've ever had. Godiva. Need I say more? I've only tried the Dark Chocolate Decadence, but is there a need to try any other flavor? Really?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

east village delights

There are many many reasons why I love the East Village. You would be correct in assuming all of these reasons are edible.

Well, there used to be food on that plate, but I ate it before I remembered to take a picture, but what nice Thai Ice Tea!

Mini Thai Cafe on Avenue A between 5th and 6th Ave is just about the only Thai restaurant that has my full approval. I learned to eat Thai food in Thailand, and therefore eschew all the Americanized versions of Thai food around the city. I am snobby about Thai food for a reason. Though I am fully supportive of the zany sushi combos only Americans make, the changes to the Thai cuisine disturb the delicate balance of flavors that makes Thai food so delicious. Some of the changes include making all the food much sweeter than it usually is, and using chicken breast which is healthier, is not the meat of choice for long stewed curries.

The number one reasons to hit Mini Thai Cafe is the Gai Yang -- Thai BBQ Chicken. There would be a picture of it also, but I'm afraid I dug in right away. My friend enjoyed his Curry Massaman as well. The summer rolls were good. The curry puffs were only mediocre, but the Thai Ice Tea was refreshing, light, and sweet.

The restaurant itself is small and cosy with friendly waitstaff. They'll smile if you say "sawadee-cah" (if you're a female) or "sawadee-krup" (if you're a male). And don't forget to thank them with "cab-kun-cah" (again female), or "cab-kun-krap."

I highly recommend making the trek out to 6th and A. Take the F train to the 2nd St stop and walk. Yummy Thai food awaits.

Monday, June 12, 2006

chicken soup thai style

During the one rainy cold week here in NYC, I managed to come down with a cold smack dab in the middle of June.

After a day or so of cold medicine, I decided I needed soup therapy. The reason why the spicy soup I've made works so well, is that in addition to the warmth of the soup soothing the throat, the spicyness helps open up the sinuses as well.

I'm sure you can still eat this soup when you're feeling fine. It'll probably even taste better without a stuffy nose.

Joy's Get Better Quick Thai Chicken Soup

2 T vegetable oil
3 T red curry paste
4 chopped chicken thighs (boneless, skinless)
2 baby eggplants in 1/2 inch pieces (get Japanese ones if you can find them)
1 yellow pepper, 1 orange
2 scallions
2 c chicken broth (1 boullion cube/2 c water)
1 can of coconut milk
1 inch of ginger in thick slices
2 serrano chiles chopped (or less to taste of how spicy -- omit seeds if you'd like it milder)
1/3 bunch of chopped cilantro
juice of one lime
2 t brown sugar
fish sauce to taste

In a large pot, heat 2 T of vegetable oil. Add the curry paste being careful of the spatter. Break up the curry paste and fry until fragrant (about 2 minutes). Then, add the chicken thighs and fry for another two minutes. Add the vegetables and continue to fry for another five minutes. Add the broth, coconut milk, ginger slices, serrano chiles and scallions. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the brown sugar and fish sauce to taste. Then squeeze the lime in the soup right before serving.

Since this soup uses chicken thighs it's all right to let the soup simmer as long as you want. The meat just gets more tender.

Makes about 6 servings.

As they say in Thai: aroi maak maak (very very delicious)

Oh, and don't eat the ginger slices! They're in the soup like a French bouquet garni.

Friday, June 09, 2006

trader joe's bonanza

I mentioned to a friend, I had always thought my twenties would be a time where I would be waltzing into Trader Joe's and picking up some tasty chicken tamales from the freezer section for a song, but I ended up living in every city which didn't house this store. However, at long last, Trader Joe's has opened on Manhattan located on 14th St. and 3rd Ave. Here's something I roasted up today from my spoils from TJ's. There's nothing like roasted veggies in the summer.

Roasted Portobello Mushrooms and a Medley of Potatoes

3 large portobello mushroom caps in thick slices
2 lbs of a variety of small potatoes in slices: red ones, purple ones, fingerling ones
3 cloves of garlic
2 t olive oil
1 t salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
5 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 T of fresh flat leaf parsley
1 oz of soft Spanish goat cheese
1/4 of a lemon

Preheat oven to 400 F.

In a large bowl toss the potatoes with all of the ingredients except the goat cheese and lemon juice. Cover a heavy baking tray with aluminum foil. Roast at 400 F for half an hour. Then, crumble goat cheese over the vegetables. Turn up heat to 450 F and roast for another fifteen minutes. Squeeze the lemon over the top of the dish when it's finished.

I have to say that it's hard to wait for potatoes to roast up. I find myself hovering around the stove trying to grab hot pieces of potatoes, and they're excellent as leftovers too ...

Monday, June 05, 2006

curious, google blueberry and itoen ...

Turns out if you google blueberry and Itoen (a Japanese tea company), you'll come up with one of my blog entries.

Voila, it's my new drink of the summer season. The blueberry green tea Itoen has created is at the top of my list for the new breed of tea-juice creations. I remember fondly back to my Amherst days when Fresh Side introduced me to the delights of a voluptuous peachy tea.

Itoen also makes black iced tea with: raspberry, apple, lemon, mango and peach. Though I was consuming many liters of the peach flavor in previous weeks, blueberry has won with raspberry coming in at a close second. It was completely dangerous for me to find out I can order it by the caseload.

Either I will turn into a big blueberry like Veronica from Charlie's Chocolate factory, or maybe my vision will become much more acute (since blueberries are proven to be wonderful for your eyes).

they call it cafe lux for a reason

New digs, new eateries ...

Cafe Luxembourg, located on 70th St between Amsterdam and whatever street is more westerly of it, has been a gem of a restaurant on the Upper Westside for a good twenty years. They obviously are doing something right. At dinner I had a Wild Mushroom Risotto with Asparagus gratin, Tiger Shrimp with Pasta in a Parmesan Cream sauce, and Blood Orange Sorbet.

Both the risotto and pasta were delicious. I thought the sorbet was too sweet though and detracted from the sophisticated flavor of the blood orange. I often say to my friends about New York restaurants that it takes a lot of excite the jaded New York palate, so one will see a lot of fusion on restaurant menus or there are the restaurants who simply do things very very good.

Cafe Luxembourg falls into the latter category. My only reservation about Cafe Lux is the price range ($25 is average for an dinner entree), but it's now much more conveniently located than Pastis. I'm eager to go again and perhaps try out their brunch menu one of these weekends.

Monday, May 22, 2006

yumma yumma

Oh, what have we here?

Why yes, it's one of New York City's finest ways to cool off during its 90 degree plus summers.

This is a fresh mango slushy coconut aloe jelly drink. It comes with a very big straw, as you can see in the picture. This delicious cool and creamy drink is from Healthy Dessert which is located on Center and Walker in Chinatown. The novelty of this drink comes from its multi-colored tiers. Fresh mango chunks sit on top of a layer of coconut slushy over mango slushy over a pool of questionably green aloe jelly (which is good for your skin from the inside too). The drinks come in a veritable rainbow of tropical flavors. Also, the mango pudding is not to be missed.

Healthy Dessert is newly reenovated too, so now you can sit contentedly browsing through the Asian mags while listening to cheesy Asian pop music in chairs with backs. Sounds like heaven, no? Healthy heaven ...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

tv dates released


There a thing in tennis called "quick-served," where someone serves the ball before the other player is ready and, of course, is caught off guard.

The Community Access Television station effectively quick-served me when my friends came up to me and said heartily (they're Austrians), "We saw you on TV!"

Here are the upcoming dates this week, showing on CAT, Channel 18 on Cox Cable:

Tuesday, 5/9/2006 4:00 PM
Thursday 5/11/2006 8:00 PM
Friday 5/12/2006 6:00 PM

We're having a viewing party at Ella's Restaurant in Fayetteville, AR in the lounge which is on the corner of Maple and Arkansas Avenue at 8PM. I would love it anyone would like to join me in watching.

For my other readers, I'll be releasing videostream as soon as I have my hands on the edited programs ...

Monday, May 01, 2006

japanese picnic and wiffleball

Perfect weather calls for dining outdoors while the sun sets at 8pm.

I hanker after raw tuna despite all my mother's warnings about mercury.

Spicy Tuna Tataki

2 scallions
3 tuna steaks
3 t sriracha sauce

In a food processor, first blitz the scallions, and then add the raw tuna steaks. Mush together with sriracha sauce (the key ingredient to spicy tuna). Keep cold.

Wasabi Potato Salad

3-4 medium sized red potatoes
3-4 scallions minced
3 t chopped parsley
4 boiled eggs (10 minute eggs)
3 T wasabi mayonaisse
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Nori sheet in matchsticks (optional, cut with scissors)

Boil the potatoes for 20 minutes. Add eggs into the pot at the halfway point. In the meantime, mince scallions and parsley. After the potatoes are finished dice them. In a large bowl place diced potatoes and peeled boiled eggs in. Throw in the rest of the ingredients, mashing the boiled eggs with a fork into uneven pieces.

Serve with Green-Mint Ice Tea.

Green-Mint Ice Tea

1/2 c boiling water
2 Green-Mint teabags
24 cubes of ice
6 c cold water

Steep the tea for 10 minutes. Put tea in a pitcher and add the ice, and then add the rest of the water and stir.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

pizza saladry

Someone told me that living in Japan I would eat the weirdest things like seafood pizza pancakes (mmm, delicious).

However, no one told me I would find one of my most favorite pizzas in the world at Las Chicas in Omotesando. This place is impossible to find, like all things in Tokyo, which was built to confuse invaders and has ultimately confused both tourists and regular Tokyo-dwellers for centuries.

I want to say if you find Muji-Rushi turn the corner and keep going straight down until you see a California styled building. Forget it, just e-mail me if you need the directions.

Anyway, at Las Chicas I discovered smoked salmon and fresh mozzarella pizza. Disgusting, you say? Delicious, I say!

Fresh Mozz & Smoked Salmon Pizza

Pizza dough
Pizza Sauce
1 Ball of Fresh Mozz
1 oz of smoked salmon
Fresh Herb Salad (or mesclun and add in fresh parsley, dill, and basil)
Japanese Mayonaisse

Preheat oven to 350 F

Roll out dough in whatever shape you can. (Dough is very difficult to get into shape). Add sauce and 1/4 inch thick slices of fresh mozzarella. Bake for about 20-25 minutes. The key is making sure the crust is finished baking up.

Then cool the pizza and add small bits of smoked salmon, and then add sald until it makes a nice mountain and drizzle with Japanese Mayonaisse.

As a friend pointed you, often you can buy pizza dough from pizza places for very little. I admit that I use tinned pizza sauce, but in other less American friendly environs, I have used a mixture of half Tomato sauce with basil and garlic tomato paste to some success.

If you're interested in the other fabulous pizza I love to eat, it involves regular mozz, but includes strips of doner kebab, chili and yogurty garlic sauce.

Come visit me in Stockholm and I'll take you.

Friday, April 14, 2006

a food blog without a recipe is like ...

A foodblog without a recipe is like ...

... a recipe posting without a picture.

Actually, I've been sitting on this news for awhile since everything has been in production, but I am releasing five Food TV shows both on TV (in Northwest Arkansas), and over the 'net (being able to download the episodes) and we might even have some DVDs to distribute.

Featured on the "Cooking with Joy" series is well, a heck of a lot of Asian cuisines, and some fusion tossed in there for good measure. In these episodes I teach everyone how to find ingredients at local Asian groceries and help you navigate and find the best snacks too! You'll be able to find all the recipes here on this website, and of course I'll be entertaining offers to make more TV shows (hopefully!).

Predicted release is going to be late May to June 2006. I'll certainly post any more updates as it goes along.

So far we've filmed:

Korean Food: Soon du bu (Spicy Tofu Soup), Korean Vegetable Pancakes with Kim Chi and mayonaisse
Japanese Food: Miso Glazed Salmon, Age-dashi Tofu (Soft Tofu in Tempura Broth), Edamame, and Pumpkin Miso Soup with Ground beef and Shrimp
Thai/American Food; Curry Chicken Tea Rolls, Baked Banana and Mango with Fresh Coconut Desert
Burmese Food: Coconut Curry Chicken Noodle Soup, Red Snapper Wrapped in Banana Leaves, Golden Raisin Basmati Rice

The last I'm planning for a Vietnamese show featuring some summer rolls and other dishes.

I'm excited and I hope you are too!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

roasted eggplant ... garlic

What is a blog entry without a picture?

Probably a recipe posting of mashed roasted eggplant which is extremely tasty, but mushed eggplant just doesn't photograph well. Besides, it's already been eaten.

The way you pick an eggplant is to pick one with a rich dark purple color with taut shiny skin. The more wrinkly it is, the older it is. Also the older it is the more the seeds become prominent.

Middle Eastern Roasted Eggplant Salad (of sorts)

1 large eggplant
1 head of garlic
2 t lemon juice (or to taste)
1/2 t red pepper flakes
some drizzles of olive oil

Take head of garlic and drizzle oil on it and wrap it in foil twice.

Set oven to 450 F and set eggplant in a dish or on foil and place the garlic in there too. Poke the eggplant all over with a sharp object. Wait until one side is charred and then make it roll over and then keep charring. At some point the eggplant will start to get saggy and look deflated. Take it out of the oven and let it cool. By this time, the garlic will be roasted as well (this all takes about 45 minutes).

Incise the eggplant and remove and discard all the seeds. Cut off the top and discard as well. Mash. In a bowl include two of the roasted garlic cloves and continue the mashing process. At this point include the lemon juice, red pepper flakes and drizzle the entire thing with oil.

This tastes fabulous on a cold plate or maybe a great 'sauce' over some cold pasta on a sunny day.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

huzza for mezze

My favorite:

Mezze is a cold platter where you eat lots of different things together. This is my panultimate favorite because I'm the sort who wants to eat just a little bit of everything.

Putting together a mezze is a breeze once you have the right ingredients: store bought hummus, greek yogurt, stuffed grape leaves, marinated olives, feta, and cucumber salad.

I got introduced to spicy marinated olives through a good friend whose father is Moroccan.

Spicy Marinated Olives

marinated olives:

1 lb olives
2 T red pepper flakes
juice of 1 lemon
2 serrano chilies chopped
1/4 c olive oil

In a large ziplock bag put all the olives and half the brine from the jar in it. Add the rest of the stuff. marinate for at least four hours. When the olives are gone (which happens more quickly than you'd think) add more olives to the marinade mixture.

Fake Tabouleh Salad

I rarely have the tabouleh around the house, so here's my modified salad:

1/3 English hothouse cucumber
1/4 bunch of parsley (flat leaved)
2 sprigs of fresh mint
2 T of lemon juice
1/4 small red onion minced

When I serve the hummus, I add a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika.

Mezze is fabuous for a lazy lunch.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

how to use up a lot of dill

Gravlax gone awry.

I actually tried to make gravlax from scratch from a Norwegian cookbook, but it ended up being a disaster so instead I promptly took myself to the supermarket and bought some smoked salmon instead.

I am not certain if this really qualifies as cooking so much as just putting all the ingredients on one plate.

Collect the following ingredients:

Steamed potatoes with dill (preferrably new potatoes)
Wasa sourdough rye crispbread
Butter (preferrably Danish or European buttter)
Creme fraiche (or sour cream)
Bunch of chives
Bunch of fresh dill
Gravlax or Lox
Hard boiled eggs
Mature English Cheddar (the Swedes would likely use Jarlsberg)
Sweet Mustard Sauce (recipe follows)

Sweet Mustard Sauce

8 T of Dijon mustard
8 T of sugar
2 T of vinegar
3 T chopped dill
4 T oil

The sauce will keep for a week in the refrigerator.

How to steam potatoes. Use a vegetable steamer and steam them for about 20 minutes. As you can see, I cut mine into smaller pieces so they cooked faster. Drape dill over potatoes to flavor them while they're being steamed.

And, as the Swedes say: Varsågod och äta!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

there's no such thing as too much chocolate

Sometimes a girl needs a chocolate fix ...

Chocolate Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Toblerone Ganache

3 oz semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 c hot brewed coffee
3 c sugar
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
2 t baking soda
3/4 t baking powder
1 1/4 t salt
3 large eggs
3/4 c butter (melted)
3/4 c milk
3/4 c greek yogurt (or 1 1/2 c buttermilk or half ratio of milk and sour cream)
1 t vanilla

Dark Chocolate Toblerone Ganache

8 oz dark chocolate (semi-sweet)
8 oz Toblerone
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 300°F.

Line cupcake pans with cupcake papers.

Chop the 3 oz of chocolate and combine with the hot chocolate and let it melt and mix it until it's smooth.

Combine and mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl: sugar, flour, salt, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder.

In another large bowl beat the eggs and add the butter, vanilla, and chocolate/coffee mixture. Add the dry ingredients to the wet combining them until somewhat smooth.

Bake for about 20 minutes, checking at 15 minute in case the oven runs hot.

How to make the frosting:

Bring 1 cup of heavy whipping cream to a near boil and add chocolates and stir until combined. Set in freezer and every five minutes check and stir until nicely thickened.

This makes a bajillion cupcakes. Sharing is nice!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Things that make you go mmmmmm.

The pleasure of having a well stocked pantry means that you're sort of padding yourself for success. In this case, I had a jar of marinated artichokes, a wedge of parmesan, and a handful of walnuts.

Artichoke Pesto

¾ jar of drained marinated artichokes in oil
2" x 1" of parmesan reggiano or perhaps 3 T of grated parmesan
½ c walnuts*

optional: lemon

Makes about one cup. Keep leftovers refridgerated.

In a small food processor, place all ingredients in at once and chop into small pieces. Feel free to taste as you go.

Artichoke pesto is a delicious and unconventional condiment which you can serve with bread. In this instance I dabbed it on top of a poached egg which perched on a toasted wedge of olive sour dough bread.

I love poached eggs for breakfast.

*Keep your walnuts in airtight containers in the refrigerator because they have oils that deteriorate which diminishes the flavor.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

spiced pears and snow

Last night I tried to think of something that would taste cosy on a chilly night.

Only one third of the pear cake is shown because my girlfriends and I already ate the other two-thirds.

This pear cake has the spongey dense texture of a carrot cake.

Spiced Layered Pear Cake

1/2 c pecans finely chopped in food processor (becomes crumbly pecan flour)
2-3 large Bosc pears thinly sliced
2 c all purpose flour
3/4 c of unsalted butter (1 and 1/2 sticks) melted
1 c white sugar
1/4 c dark brown sugar
2 t cinnamon
2 t baking soda
1 t salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 t vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F

Thinly slice the pears, paint them with a little butter and lightly coat in dark brown sugar and finely cut pecan flour. Combine flour, salt, baking soda and white sugar in a large mixing bowl. Lighty beat the eggs and combine them to the melted butter in a separate bowl, and add the vanilla. Make a well in the combined dry ingredient bowl and add liquid mixture in, stirring until completely combined.

In a loaf pan, cover bottom with pear slices then add one thin layer of cake batter, repeat layers until the top and end on a pear layer.

Bake for 1 hour. At around 45 minutes, check the middle by using a fork to see if it comes out clean.

Enjoy ...

Saturday, February 04, 2006

raita of my heart

I was too hungry.

I intended to make some sort of Cuban styled rubbed pork with the pork tenderloin center chops I had bought, but hunger overcame me so I threw together something from a spice rub I already had.

This meal cooks up pretty quickly -- in about 30-40 minutes.

Harissa Rubbed Pork Chop with Red Potato Wedges with Zucchini and Goat Cheese

3 pork chops
3 T harissa* (please figure out how spicy your harissa paste is and increase or decrease accordingly)
2 T olive oil

5 large red potatoes
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t paprika
cracked black pepper
1/4 t salt
1 t olive oil

1/2 small zucchini large diced

2 oz. soft goat cheese


1/2 c plain yogurt (try to find one without pectin in it)
1/4 t salt
1/4 t crushed cumin seeds
1/2 cucumber small diced
cracked black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 F

In a large bowl toss potato wedges and zucchini with salt, cinnamon, paprika, black pepper and olive oil. On a baking pan lay down aluminum foil and put potato and zucchini mixture on the aluminum foil. Crumble goat cheese onto the vegetables. Try not to allow the goat cheese to rest on the foil or pan because it will bake too quickly.

Bake for at least 30 minutes, or for as long as you can bear. The zucchini is usually ready a little before the potatoes, and I would be lying if I didn't say that I didn't stand in front of the oven snatching pieces of zucchini and melted goat cheese to eat.

Prepare the raita by mixing everything in a small bowl.

Combine the harissa paste and olive oil in a bowl and coat the pork chops with the mixture. Sprinkle chops with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

When the potatoes and zucchini are ten minutes away from finishing heat a large skillet to medium high. Do not crowd the chops. Saute for around 8 minutes total. My chops were very thin so they finished up fast. For optimal browning, only flip the chops once.

I guess Carribean tastes will have to wait for my next dish ...

Monday, January 23, 2006

I read "bacon" so I ate it

In a happy accident, I read the title of the soup as "Bacon Provencal Fish Soup

Which, of course, I took to mean the soup that had both bacon and fish in it. Upon closer reading I realized the author was refering to Bacon's restaurant soup. But since my heart was set on bacon, bacon it was ...

Also, behind the soup is a beautiful way to keep your parsley (and cilantro) fresh, by putting them in a cup with fresh water (remember to change the water daily). This makes it easy to snip what you need.

Joy's Provencal Fish Soup

5 slices of thick cut bacon diced
5 large red potatoes diced
half a large onion thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic minced
2 cans of plum tomatoes
1/3 bunch of parsley
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 leaves of fresh sage
2 fresh bay leaves
1/2 c of dry vermouth
2 filets of tilapia cut into large chunks
cayenne pepper to taste
freshly ground black pepper
1 c water

Garlic Aioli (1 clove of garlic + 3 T favorite mayonaisse)
Nicoise olives

Over medium high heat, fry the bacon until half way done, add onions, and saute until translucent. When the onions are nearly finished add the garlic, thyme, bay leaf, and sage for one minute. Add the tomatoes, breaking them up in the pot, and add the vermouth. Add one cup of water and the diced potatoes and simmer until the potatoes are soft (around 20-30 minutes). While the soup is simmering, in a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic with a little bit of salt, and add to mayonaisse.

When the potatoes are finished cooking, add the tilapia fillet chunks and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Serve with aioli if desired and a bunch of nicoise olives.

Bon appetite!

Friday, January 20, 2006

embarrassingly easy korean

Good Kim-Chi will strip paint, in all likelihood.

I love Korean Vegetable Pancakes. I must not speak Korean well because when I discussed them with the lady at the Korean Grocery Store, I said: Chi-Chi-Mee. She didn't understand me, and then she said, "Oh!" and repeated it back to me with an entirely different inflection.

Without further ado ...
Mini Korean Kim-chi Vegetable Pancakes

1/2 c Kim-Chi
1/2 c Vegetable Pancake Mix (buy at Korean or Japanese Grocery store)
1 scallion chopped in diagonal slivers (it looks prettier that way)
1/2 c water
Oil for frying (less than 2 teaspoons)

Japanese Mayonaisse (less than 1 t)

Mini food processor

Step by step:

The flour batter mix to buy at the store.

It's a one-to-one ratio of flour mix to water here. I just made a half batch for me today. (1/2 c flour, 1/2 c water)

Here I blitzed the Kim-Chi, but it's fine just to roughly slice it into more biteable pieces. Then I added the chopped scallions.

Then heat your pan to high and add oil, then turn down to medium heat and add batter in about 3 in radius circles. I obviously have not mastered the perfectly round curved edge pancake technique yet.

Drizzle with Japanese mayonaisse and serve as an appetizer, or light lunch. I ate this with my Soft Tofu in Tempura Sauce recipe for lunch today. I have a happy stomach.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

you say japanese lemon, I say yuzu

Product Spotlight Time!

When I spent New Year's Eve in New York, it was bitterly cold, and by the time I got inside the apartment where the party was, though there was much champagne offered, I only wanted tea.

My friend then graciously offered to make me Honey Citron Tea, but the way it was prepared was like nothing I had ever seen before. I have seen plenty of tea in powdered form (an Asian favorite), but I had never seen tea in a jam.

To be quite honest, all this Korean "tea" looks like is marmalade, but it is amazingly delicious, lightning fast to prepare, and great for when you feel a cold setting in. And it is entirely free of caffeine, but doesn't have that annoying taste that some herbal teas have.

You boil water, and scoop a large tablespoon of jam into your cup and stir. Voila.

You can find this in any Korean grocery store. Usually it is on the shelf near the jam, or in the refrigerator.

When hunting down this tea jam, my Japanese friend was telling me that it actually wasn't a regular lemon, but a special one.

"Yuzu." I said back to him, with a glint in my eye. (I have lived in Tokyo for a year).

first stop little peking!

Oh my. I have a slew of things to write about.

They do say pictures are worth more than many words, no?

The exquisite gustatory delights of well made Chinese food often elude me. However, in Orange County, California, if you are ever in the middle region, you must go to Little Peking. I suppose some would call this a hole-in-the-wall type of restaurant. It is located in the shopping center on the south east corner of Westminster and Newland at: 8566 Westminster Ave, Westminster, CA 92683.

I have had homemade dumplings in Beijing, eaten in Chinatown in San Francisco, Toronto, and New York, and I can still reassure you that these are by far the best dumplings I have ever eaten. Pictured above are the boiled dumplings and the roast beef in onion pancake roll.

The pork leek filling coupled with the home made dough make Peking a frequent must, along with their very reasonable prices. One order of succulent pan fried or boiled dumplings will only cost $5.

Only in the past few years has my family enjoyed the roast beef onion pancake roll. The roll is comprised of a crispy fried green onion pancake wrapped around layers of chinese flavored roast beef, fresh green onions, and hoisin sauce.

Hm, I feel a little drooly just thinking about visiting Little Peking restaurant, but unfortunately it is so far away.