Super Slaw

June 22, 2010

Part of our Fathers Day feast, this recipe comes passed down from a friend of my sister’s mother-in-law and it was definitely a big hit paired with the steak sandwiches we served.  The colorful Asian-inspired slaw with a peanut butter based dressing was a surprising twist to the usual mayo based cole slaw we all know and love. It pairs well with just about any barbeque dish and the dressing can be prepared ahead of schedule, which makes it a perfect side dish for any gathering.

Super Slaw

Dressing:

  • 6 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 6 tbsp. vegetable (or grapeseed) oil
  • 5 tbsp. creamy peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp. brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tbsp. minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic

Salad:

  • 5 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
  • 2 cups  thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, cut in strips
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut in strips
  • 6 green onions, cut in strips
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into strips
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Mix salad and toss in dressing 30 minutes before serving. Chopped peanuts can also be sprinkled on top for added texture and presentation.

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There were 3 reasons to make this:

  1. I finally bought myself a cast-iron skillet! I was so excited about my purchase I think I told just about everyone (and now, the world). After no luck scowering garage sales and thrift stores looking for a skillet I could salvage, I decided to use a Williams Sonoma gift card I’d been holding onto for something special. I bought this one, and only ended up paying about $3 tax for it. Now I want to use it everyday!
  2. I dreamt of blueberry pancakes this weekend. They were piled high to the sky dripping in maple syrup and warm blueberries. Since then, I’ve been craving them. 
  3. Yesterday marked the first day of summer and a celebratory dish was in order.Since it’s still been a little gloomy lately, baking this pancake with fresh berries seemed the perfect fit.

Even with all my reasoning, something so simple and sweet really doesn’t need any excuses to be whipped up. Since I wasnt about to eat a sky-high pile of blueberry pancakes all by lonesome, I opted for this dutch version that can easily be cut up like a pie and even eaten as a dessert with some vanilla ice cream. So this was my summer solstice dinner… 🙂

 

Summer’s Dutch Baby Pancake

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 stick melted butter
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup raspberries

Blend eggs, milk, flour, melted butter, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Melt some butter in the skillet. Add berries, then add batter. Bake at 375 for 35 min. Dust with powered sugar when cooled.

*Add vanilla ice cream on the side for a simple dessert or maple syrup to top.

Fathers Day Dinner

June 21, 2010

This year was the first Fathers Day that I can remember where my dad actually did what he loves to do. Play golf the entire day!  Luckily for him, he has lots of women around that love to cook. When the boys were all done with their round of golf, they were greeted with a mouth-watering dinner prepared in honor of our Dad’s. This menu would work beautifully for any potluck, BBQ or simple gathering since most of it can be prepared ahead of time; we just happened to piece it together for this special day. Below is a recap of what was prepared, click on the links for all the delicious recipes. Enjoy!   

Shrimp Cocktail– recipe adapted from Epicurious   

   

Ciabatta Steak Sandwiches with pesto aioli– recipe adapted from FoodNetwork *add minced garlic to spread for a true aioli.   

   

Peachy White Sangria– recipe adapted from About.com *substitute peach schnapps and sugar for white grape juice   

   

Super Slaw with peanut dressing  

   

And for dessert,  A Lemon Mousse   

*This German recipe is currently being translated, but will be available shortly!  

   

Cheers to you Dad! Thank you for all your love and support. Hope you had a happy Fathers Day!   

Love you, Pops.   

  Dad and I (Age 1) in Lahaina, Maui. 

    

   

Tools of the trade

June 18, 2010

Since I’ve been in my kitchen a lot more lately, I realized im seriously lacking in tools. While I have most of the basics, and can truly appreciate the little things that make my life a lot easier like my food processor, ceramic peeler  and even my Zeroll ice cream scoop (it has heat conductive liquid inside)  🙂 Lets just say im due for an upgrade or at least additions onto my already existing collection.

Heres what I’ve had my eye on:

Top of the list! My very own Le Creuset dutch oven. It can be used on the stove top and in the oven, for soups, braises, casseroles, boiling pasta,  pretty much everything! I don’t know how I’ve survived in my kitchen without one, if even just for the Beef Bourguignon I could make with this! Sigh…

A cast-iron skillet. The perfect non-stick multitasking tool. Who doesn’t love a multi-tasking tool? Just like the cast-iron dutch oven, It can be used on the stove top or in the oven for frying, baking, browning… again, pretty much anything.  It’s so durable I could even take it camping!

A large roasting pan. I can make something small in a big pan, but I can’t make something big in a small one; right? I guess the disposable roasting pans could work for now or my bundt pan 🙂

A KitchenAid mixer. It’s probably the reason I don’t bake much. And in my tiny kitchen, I would have to clear out a lot of space for it but it would be sooo worth it, if even for all the pasta and bread I could make!  I think its safe to say most people get one of these babies when they get married, but why wait till then?

BOWLS!! I’m seriously lacking in mixing bowls. I think I have 1. That’s it. Preferably, a set of both Stainless-Steel and glass would be nice; but there are so many options. I’d be happy with just more bowls, period.

A BIG HUGE butchers block cutting board. It becomes your workstation, essentially.

Oven mitts. We have zero at the moment, and usually a dishtowel would work just fine. But there have been accidents in the past due to not having a steady grip and a simple oven mitt would easily fix that.

A wok. (or at least a much larger frying pan) I looooove asian food. Chinese and Thai especially! After using a wok in my first ever Chinese cooking class, It’s way easier to just get a wok instead of trying to fit all the ingredients that go into the frying pan I have at home. It can be done, but it’s not very easy. I should probably note that if you have an electric stove (like I do) then you need a flat bottom wok since the traditional round bottom ones wouldn’t fully contact the stove’s heat.

A Steamer. I guess this goes hand-in-hand with my love for asian foods and im limited with the tools I already own. A small stock pot can only make so many dumplings with that metal-flower-steamer and the  mini rice cooker I had in my college dorm room can probably hold 5 or 6 dumplings, max. I’ll just have to spring for something bigger.

That’s my list thus far. I’m sure there will be more tools to covet later…

After I broke off a button on my favorite Marc Jacobs skirt (yes, from overeating…embarrasing) and making some exciting summer purchases i.e. new bathing suit.  I decided it’s maybe time for (dare i say it) a diet.  Ok,  just kidding I don’t diet! Haha.  I have been trying to watch what I eat though and it probably doesn’t help that the bf keeps making PERFECT chocolate chip cookies…

When it comes to my eating habits, I’ve always gone by the rule “everything in moderation” but since bathing suit season is right around the corner and eating “everything in moderation” (emphasis on EVERYTHING) wasnt really helping in keeping my buttons from popping off,  I came across Dr. Oz’s B.E.A.C.H. Diet . I like it because it’s a simple reminder of what to keep in mind for not only a beach body, but a great go-to guide anytime you feel the need to cut back a little.  

B– Eat Breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It kick starts your metabolism and gives you the energy you need to start the day. It’s by far my favorite meal and will gladly get up early to fully enjoy everything breakfast has to offer and actually my favorite restaurants are those that serve breakfast ALL DAY just incase I don’t make it out of bed at “breakfast time”.  In trying to stick to a “beach body” regimen, I’ve been reaching for fruit, yogurt, whole grain cereal with skim milk or oatmeal during the week when I have work and then making a little something extra on the weekends like eggs with veggies and fruit.

EEliminate simple carbs and Exercise. Some people are better at one of these than the other. I can easily eliminate simple carbs from my diet, it’s easy and kind of a no-brainer. Staying away from breads, cake, muffins, white rice, cookies, or pretty much anything made with a ton of sugar or refined white flour we know is gonna plump us up. Exercise is where I fall short. It’s generally not fun for me to run and feel like im dying, so no. I don’t excercise. Heres where I really have to make the effort and I try to make it as fun as possible. I get people involved!! Plan hiking trips, jog (even if its one block at a time), play in the park with the dog, or simply go for a walk. Cardio in general is the hardest thing to do, but making it fun by going swimming and racing across the pool a few times or taking that lazy puppy out to get his heart pumping will make you feel better (even if you still don’t fit in that teeny-bikini right away). The endorphin high alone is well worth it and you’ll see results quicker than just doing Yoga once or twice a week, I know I do.

A– Add Antioxidants to your plate. Antioxidants not only protect your cells against the effects of free radicals that can be harmful to your health, they also help in reducing inflammation in the body, which indirectly helps with weight loss; especially in getting rid of that “bloated” feeling.  Some of my favorite foods high in antioxidants include: Berries, any kind of vibrant colored fruit, especially Kiwi and Pineapple; Kale, beets, spinach, dates, beans (soy and pinto), roasted peanuts, walnuts, whole grain oats and seasonings like lemon and chili peppers. Not to mention a daily dose of coffee (or tea) and the occasional glass of red wine and chocolate!! Which takes me to the next thing…

C– Indulge in dark Chocolate. Ok, this is the main reason I like this “diet” it includes chocolate! Yes, it has to be dark (look for at least 70% cocoa) but it will help offset the urge you may have in eating a whole pint of ice cream or having rum cake for dinner (don’t judge me).

HHydrate! We run around our busy days and forget to stop for a glass of water. Drink up! It’s easy to mistaken hunger for thirst, so when you start feeling hungry, drink a tall glass of water (or two). Staying hydrated and avoiding those sugary drinks will really help in shedding those extra inches we need to fit into that new bathing suit!

So the next time you feel the need to diet, try these simple steps instead of taking drastic measures like skipping meals or taking pills. There are some pretty scary diets out there, but just being aware of what you’re eating and adding a few fun “exercises” into your week may just be all you need to get back into shape, feeling your best and keeping your buttons from popping off!

If you live on the Westside of Los Angeles, chances are you’ve heard of the cafe/art space inspired by Tokyo’s Akihabara district; if not, you’re hearing about it now and you MUST go check it out. Apart from the constantly changing art and the friendly waitresses dressed in french maid outfits, Royal-T has a unique and authentic menu that always keeps me coming back for more. One of my favorite things featured on their menu are the  Green Tea Soba Noodles; and after craving them for almost two weeks I decided to try to replicate the recipe myself.  Directly off their menu, here’s the description  I had to work with:

Green Tea Soba Noodles

with Market Vegetables, Mushrooms, Black Garlic and a Brown Butter/Oyster Sauce

Sounds simple enough…. except, what the heck is black garlic??

Here’s where I had to do a bit a research:

I found that Black garlic is a made by fermenting whole garlic bulbs at a high temperature which results in black cloves. This process not only gets rid of all the annoying stuff in raw garlic like the smell that lingers… and the bad breath that follows but its said to have twice as many antioxidants than its raw form.

It was first introduced to the US in 2008 and has become a sought after ingredient for high-end Asian cuisine. It tastes kind of syrupy, sweet and almost chocolate flavored (really nothing like garlic at all). I would say its closer to a tamarind paste (and maybe I’ll try it in my pad Thai!).  I called up my local Whole foods to see if they carried it and to my surprise, they had it in stock!

Next on my list was finding the green tea Soba noodles a.k.a Cha Soba Noodles.

You’d think the green tea version of these noodles would be just as readily available as their regular counterparts but turns out I could only find small packets of them at my local Japanese market. Even the teller was surprised that was all they carried. One brand, small quantities. So I bought 2 packs at $2.99 each, and went home ready to tackle this dish.

Here’s the recipe I concocted:

  • 1 packet green tea Soba noodles
  • Market fresh veggies of choice (I used asparagus and shiitake mushrooms)
  • Grapeseed oil
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • sesame seeds
  1. Boil noodles for 5-6 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Saute asparagus and mushrooms in oil until cooked through.Brown butter in pan then add oyster sauce, garlic and soy sauce.
  3. Quickly toss in noodles and veggies. Top with sesame seeds to serve.

My plate

Simple and delicious! I love this dish because the ingredients are something completely new and authentic. It’s simple high-end Japanese cuisine at home. Enjoy!

Chicken Quesadillas

May 28, 2010

After making a whole 5lb chicken for two, we had PLENTY of leftovers. It was the bf’s great idea to make chicken quesadillas- or for me to make them- but I was gladly up for it!

One quick trip to Trader Joes later and I had the makings of a really yummy quesadilla.

Heres how it all came together:

  • 1 package of  rice tortillas (thought they were an interesting change)
  • 1 package of  shredded mexican cheese mix
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 diced tomatoes
  • sour cream
  • lime
  • Cayenne pepper- to taste
  • Leftover chicken

In a pan, saute the chicken, onion, garlic and cayenne pepper. Once the onions are cooked through, fill your quesadillas with cheese and flip as often as necessary until the cheese is melted. Cut and serve with sour cream, chopped tomatoes (or salsa) and drizzle with lime.

YUM.