December 20, 2009

Tom Kha Soup

I love that my huge family has a huge appreciation for food. For my sister's wedding in November - which was absolutely beautiful - we were in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic at an all inclusive resort. That means ALL YOU CAN EAT. Let me say that again - AYCE. For the Hung family, that's pretty much perfect. Ha! Not only did we always get together to eat - from larger servings that what should be allowed to snacking on plantain chips every time we were at the pool to having far more than the three meals per day - we took pictures of all the food consumed. I will share those shortly.
We also don't take no for an answer when trying to make you eat something that is just so good but you think you are too full. Really, you are never too full. Each night after eating dinner, we take a quick peak at the night buffet by the beach to see what they were serving that night. I anxiously waited for the delicious nutella cake each night while my cousin went for the main course. One night when we claimed we were absolutely beyond stuffed (actually, this is the same comment we made after every meal...sigh), she saw a mushroom risotto that was just too appetizing to pass up. I heard her say, wow, they have risotto, it looks so good, I think I may get a spoonful. When she came back to our table - that spoonful turned into a large bowl that she undoubtly forced all of us to eat. Damn her!
I digress....talking about food and family pretty much go hand in hand. Anyways, we talk about food as much as we eat. Cousin Nat told me she had a perfect recipe for Tom Kha Soup, which has multiple ingredients I've never heard of or knew where to get. When she shared the recipe, I thought galgangal looks like ginger, perfect, I'll substitute! Ha, then I read and researched a little more to find that you really can't do since there is no other ingredient with galgangal flavor and Tom Kha actually means boiled Galgangal. One of Ross' frequent restaurants in the Heights is Asia Market - half Thai restaurant and grocery store - and they had fresh lemongrass, kaffir (lime) leaves and galgangal. Perfect!
The only thing I would do is cut down on the amount of fish sauce. Start with only a tablespoon and taste test before you add more.

Tom Kha Soup
Need 1 big pot and serves roughly 4-5 people depending how many bowls you eat yourself!
2 cups chicken breast (2 chicken breast)
1 cup tofu cut into small cubes
2 cups chicken stock (1 can)
9 oz can coconut milk
1 cup straw mushroom
3 lemon grass (you want the bottom white part about 6 inces only and cut into 2 inch segments)
8 slices of galgangal (sliced fairly thin)
4 kaffir lime leaves (rip off hard part and then tear each in half to help extract some of the oils)
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3-4 tsp fresh lemon or lime juice
Lightly chopped cilantro (if you want, not absolutely necessary)
1. Take the lemon grass segments and with the back of your knife or something hard, quickly hack the lemongrass to extract the flavor.
2. In a big pot, boil the chicken stock. Once boiling, add the lemongrass, galgangal slices, lime leaves and sugar. Let it cook on medium heat for roughly 10 minutes.
3. Then add the coconut milk and add only one tablespoon of fish sauce. Take a quick taste and if you want more saltiness, add more fish sauce one tablespoon at a time. Put heat to low so soup simmers. If you want to add some red/green chillies here, it adds a little kick.

Next, turn up the heat to medium high and add the mushroom and chicken. Once chicken turns light - 5 minutes - turn off the heat and add the tofu. Add the lemon/lime juice and some sprigs of fresh cilantro on top to complete the dish. Deeee-lish!

December 12, 2009

Love Me Some Eggs - Eggs en Cocette

I love eggs. I can probably attribute this to my dad who loves eggs just as much as I do. When I was little and my mom was in Taiwan for the summer, it was the pops and me alone for an entire summer. Pretty fantastic - from getting Burger King Whoppers, learning to sing Taiwan music in the car to having eggs for breakfast, lunch or dinner, it was a pretty memorable two months. He'd put eggs in soup, pan fry eggs for dinner, add an egg to an onion pancake for breakfast.

So I found this recipe from
Cooking Light and immediately made this the next morning for brunch. It reminds me of a dish my mom would make for lunch - a salty steamed egg custard that served as a side dish when she'd make rice porridge. Hrm, I need to ask her how for that recipe!

So what is Eggs en Cocette. Baked eggs with cream where the yolks is warm and deliciously runny. Why do you need to have runny yolks? So you can dip your toast and sop up all the goodness! Ack, so good.

These things are popular! Not only did
Wednesday Chef make a recent post, Liz Chuk also mentioned how delicious this would be. Too bad our BFs don't appreciate the goodness of such a decadent dish. Le sigh. It's okay, more for us! Wednesday Chef had a good idea to add in some veggies to the dish so I will try that next time. I made one slight adaptation to this recipe and cut down on the butter.

Simple Baked Eggs
Need: 6 oz ramekins (one per serving but I was able to eat two!)
2 large eggs
2 tsp heavy cream
fresh grated parmessan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Rub the inside of the ramekins with butter (take 1/2 tablespoon cube and lightly rub). I tried to use as little as possible. Sprinkle a tad bit of parmessan cheese at the bottom then carefully break the egg into the ramekin making sure not to break the yolk. Add a pinch of S&P (be care on salt especially if you add the cheese which has its own amount of saltiness) and a teaspoon of cream. Sprinkle a tad more cheese on top. 3. Put the ramekins into a deep baking dish and fill the baking dish with hot water until it comes up half way of the ramekins. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Enjoy! Serve with toast so you can sop up the runny goodness of such dish!

December 06, 2009

Sun Dried Tomato Pasta

Hallo! I am back after a hectic month and oh, how I’ve missed cooking and enjoying dinner at home. With a crazy work launch, moving (woot!) and my sister’s wedding, November was a very good but busy five weeks. Dinners for the past month have consisted of quick & microwaveable meals, pasta from the can (I know, for shame..), dumplings that just need a quick boil or simple takeout.

You can probably tell from my posts that pasta is one of my favorite dishes. Why? Because you can do SO many different things with it. Make it healthy with a light toss of salt, pepper, herbs, veggies and olive oil, toss in a little a tomato sauce, make it taste even better with a few tad weee spoonfuls of cream or have it with protein or seafood. So many ways, I die. I found this recipe from one of my favorite blogs, The Kitchen, which incorporates recipes from a myriad of sources, latest kitchen styles, kitchen/cooking goodies and information about food you may never have heard of. I just love it. I was attracted to the sun dried tomato (which I love when I have in restaurants but never really used or cooked with it myself), basil and of course, cream. This was simple but incorporated very few ingredients that are each packed with flavor so just adding a few things together make a pretty awesome dish. I varied the recipe in how I cooked them but I’ll list both ways below.

As the Mantis said in Kung Fu Panda, “This is so good, I wish my mouth was bigger!” Enjoy.

Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta (adapted slightly from the Kitchen)
(Serves 4) Need: Small food processor, pan for sauce & one large pot to boil spaghetti

5 cloves garlic
3 tbs of fresh basil leaves
1 packed cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained (I made this recipe again and actually used sun dried tomato puree & spread that was also in the same section of the grocery)
1 tbs olive oil
1 cup milk
1/2 cup cream
1 tsp hot red pepper flakes (I omitted this)
½ cup parmesan cheese
1 lb. fettuccine or linguine or enough to feed 4 people (there’s a lot of sauce and I tend to like a lighter sauce on pasta)1. Boil and cook to al dente the pasta according to package directions. Put the sun dried tomato, basil and 4 garlic cloves in the food processor. Blend until lightly chunky as the below picture. (The Kitchen recipe only processed the tomatoes and manually minced and chiffonaded the basil. I liked forcing all the flavors to combine first in the processor).2. Heat a pan, put a splash of olive oil and mince the last garlic clove. Add the minced garlic clove until your kitchen gets that yummy roasted garlic smell. Add the sun dried tomato mixture and lightly cook on medium heat for a few minutes.
3. Add the milk and cream and lower the heat. Cook it for a good 7-10 minutes until it thickens a bit and cooks. (You can add in red pepper flakes here if you’d like). Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. (The sun dried tomato mixture is already pretty salty so I just added a pinch of pepper.)
4. Once pasta is al dente, add directly to the pan. Turn off heat and quickly mix the pasta with the mixture. If you need to add some pasta water you can. Last, I tossed in a handful of parmesan cheese to top it off. 5. Serve and enjoy! I served this with a light zucchini salad tossed with a lemon vinaigrette.

November 01, 2009

Restaurant Review: Beavers

Can you believe it's November?! Gorgeous weather this weekend - 60 degrees with the sun and slight breeze. Lunch on Saturday took us to Beavers on Sawyer.

This restaurant and "ice house" is a cute little bungalow on Sawyer with an outdoor seating area - where we ventured since the weather was so kickin. I started with a wonderful cup of coffee - nothing like starting the weekend with a good cup of joe. I ordered the Market Garden Risotto with a side of their "Killer Coleslaw. " The risotto was okay. The risotto consisted of carnaroli rice, spring peas, roasted Texas shrooms, smoked tomatoes, sweet corn, herbs and sprouts. It was as creamy or flavorful as I had imagined and wished that I could have tasted the mushroom or corn flavoring in the rice. I didn't notice the smoked tomatoes. Unfortunately, it was not so memorable that I end up consuming the entire plate and still think about it later that day. The Coleslaw on the other hand, pretty darn delicious. I love slaw - one of my favorite sides and this was no let down. It has cabbage and jicama - yum, one of my
favorite ingredients! Veggies were fresh and crunchy and the dressing, oh my, the dressing. The three seed creamy dressing was the clincher. It was sweet with a little peppery kick and it didn't make the slaw soggy. It was just a perfect combination - I think this is giving KFC slaw a run for number 1 spot. If I learn how to make that dressing - coleslaw every night!
Ross had the pork sandwich - double of coure - and ehh, it was way too salty in my opinion. When you oversalt, you really can't go back and do anything to make it better. Homemade chips were okay - not as crispy as they looked.

All in all, the slaw was freakishly good but the meal itself was sub-par. Don't think I love this place and probably will only come back to check out the drinks or if I'm craving a slaw snack.

October 17, 2009

Restaurant Review: Benjys on Washington

Hilda was in town and after spending the morning showing the house and waiting for inspections (and on only one mug of coffee), we went to Benjys on Washington for a quick lunch before I had to go to work. I've only been to this particular restaurant once and I remember it being pretty good for dinner - a tad pricey but good.
I like the atmosphere - industrial mixed with comtemporary touches. So let's start with the complimentary dips/breads. First was a nut mixture that Hilda was pretty fond of - probably b/c of the kick it had. I didn't like it as much. They also had these cheddar biscuits that were mmmmm! Crumbly and flavorful. Last, there were paper thin disks of grains? which I didn't like very much.

For appetizer, we shared the Spicy Tuna Tartar on crispy edaname cake with avocado couills. I LOVE this. Too bad there were only five. Tuna was flavored so well but not too overpowering. It complemented the edamane cake so well (who knew you could make edaname into a cake?) and the mix of balsamic dressing and avocado sauce was fantastic. Perfect combination of flavors. They were so good, I'm pretty sure I could have popped 10 or more of these thing. They remind me of the amazing tuna tartar appetizer from Picos in Sausilito.

Hilda had the Asian salad with wonton crisps, cashews, peanut sauce and soy-garlic dressing. It was pretty good - still not as good as Magginos chopped salad. I think this would be have been better with some type of cheese - blue cheese, feta or even white cheddar would have been good.

I had the Pepper crusted tuna with nicoise salad. Not as good as Hildas. I liked the tuna - seared and cooked well but I did not really taste the pepper crusted outside. The salad has potatos, onions, eggs and croutons. I was a tad disappointed in the salad - don't think it complemented the tuna slices very well.

So on a scale of 1 (bad) to 10 (best), I'd give this place a 6. Love the appetizer, enjoyed the atmospohere even thought it was a tad loud and disappointed by my salad. For the price ($16) for an okay, okay salad - I definitely will not get that again.

October 16, 2009

Turkey Empanadas

During one weekend, I was on a bread kick. Why? I love my kitchen aid mixer and realized it had been weeks (weeks, I say!) since I put that dough kneader to work. It’s hard pressed to find a good empanada when I don’t venture to Mexican or Spanish restaurants much. The last empanada I had that was so perfect – in Puerto Rico on the beach where “chef” was walking around yelling if we wanted some. I still remember the crew of us standing on the beach, chowing down on empanadas with sauce dripping from our fingers. So very yum.

This was not the perfect recipe but it was good and I’ll try and experiment again soon. The dough was good (it must be with 2 sticks of buttah!) but the filling could have been a little creamier – a tad too dry for me. And for the filling, I probably should have followed a recipe but I thinking I was so great, I made it up. Yeah, I’m not a chef and shouldn’t be doing that often – ha! Next time, I may add potatoes to the filling so its gives a more creamy, starchy consistency.

Turkey Empanadas

1 /2 to 1 lb ground turkey
Frozen corn
1 tomato cut into cubes
5 shallots sliced
1 Bay leave
Dry basil
Dry oregano
Dash of hot sauce
Dry Italian seasoning/herbs
Dash of cumin
A tad of chicken broth

Dough from Smitten Kitchen
4 ½ cups flour
3 tsp salt
2 sticks cold butter, cut into cubes
2 eggs
2/3 cup ice water
2 tbsp vinegar

1. Start with the dough since it needs to be chilled in the fridge for 2 hours. In the kitchen aid mixer bowl, cut the COLD cubes of butter into the flour. It should end up being tiny modules of doughy lumps. In another bowl, mix egg, water and vinegar. Put the mixer on slow with the kneader and slowly add in the wet mixture. Let it knead until it forms a round ball. Put on counter and form into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill for 2 hours in the fridge.

2. 30 minutes before your 2 hours are up, start making the filling. Cook the ground turkey with some olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, oregano, basil and Italian seasoning. Once almost done, take out the turkey and put in a bowl. Using the same pan with the turkey juices, cook down the shallots (add somre more olive oil if you need) until they are soft and makes your kitchen smell delicious. Add in the tomatoes and let it cook a little more.
3. I also added in a tad bit of chicken broth to help cook and steam. Once tomatoes are soft, add in the frozen corn and season with salt and pepper. Add in the turkey. Season with a dash of hot sauce and cumin. Add additional dry herbs if needed – I tasted every step of the way.

4. Take dough out of fridge and cut it into four cube. Take half and cute them into size of a golf ball. Roll out into a flat dish, fill with turkey filling, and with some water around the edges, seal them into that pretty empanada shape we all love. This recipe makes about 20 empanadas. Do a quick egg wash on the top if you need.

5. Cook in 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.

October 03, 2009

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Wheat Pasta

Oh, the many ways to make pasta. I religiously read Smitten Kitchen and Sassy Radish food blogs and came across this from Smitten Kitchen. When I’m busy at work and get home late, I want simple, clean dishes that also don’t dirty up a sink-ful of pots and pans. So easy, I omitted a few things, added a few things and needed to add a little protein – ground turkey.

In an effort to cook a little healthier (ha, and pasta’s the answer right?), I started using wheat pasta and maaaaaan, I’m telling you, just not as good. I don’t fall into that dreamy, content state after eating a really good meal, which this SO much better without the wheat pasta. Not saying this dish was not good – it was, but I’m always looking for that oh so perfect dish.

I’ll be conflicted the next time I make pasta. Do I be healthy with wheat pasta and still enjoy a good meal or be naughty use regular pasta to enjoy a great meal? Probably the latter =)

Roasted Red Pepper Wheat Pasta
Adapted from
Smitten Kitchen
(4 cooking items: Big pot to cook pasta, pan to cook ground turkey, food processor and bowl to mix)

1 pound of small wheat pasta
¼ pound ground turkey (I wanted to add some meat to this dish so feel free to omit for veggie dish)
Pinch of dried basil (If you decide to go veggie, don't need this)
Pinch of dried parsley (If you decide to go veggie, don't need this)
Pinch of garlic powder (If you decide to go veggie, don't need this)
3 red bell pepper, roasted, skinned and seeded
1/4 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 medium shallot
1 garlic clove
Pecorino cheese (I just had this in the fridge so use whatever cheese you have or you can completely omit)
***Per Smitten Kitchen, you can also add any type of veggies - peas, broccoli, corn, etc.

1. About 1.25 hours before you want to eat, wash and completely pat dry the bell peppers. Do not cut! Lightly pour olive over them (just a teensy tad) and put in 350 degree oven for 1 hour. I like to turn them at 30 minutes to make sure they are cooked all the way around.

2. 45 minutes into this, start boiling water to cook the pasta. Take the ground turkey and I mix it with the basil, parsley, garlic powder and salt and pepper. Tad of olive oil in pan and cook the turkey completely. Make sure to drain any of the oil when done.

3. Once the bell peppers are done, take then out and let them sit for 5 minutes. I like to cover them with plastic or aluminum to trap the steam which also helps you easily pull the skin off. Complete peel and deseed the bell peppers.
4. Put them in a food processor with the peeled garlic clove and shallot. Give it a good blend. Then add in the red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. I love the taste of red wine vinegar so I tend to put more than what folks like to eat. I think this would be fantastic with some champagne vinegar too. Give another good blend and then slowly pour olive oil into the food processor. This should be a creamy, delicious dressing now. 5. Now, putting it all together! Take a big whopping bowl and put the pasta (drain well), ground turkey and then pour the dressing in portions to see how much/how little you want to add. Sprinkle pecorino cheese on top. Next, take a big whiff of the pasta, grab a glass of wine and enjoy.

September 22, 2009

Houston Restaurant Week Reviews!

Wow! I’m incredibly slacking on posting new updates. I promise to be better. Really. Today, though, I actually wanted to share my experiences with several restaurants around town during Houston Restaurant Week last month. I hope to do this too with any new places I try. Below are recaps so beware, it’s a long post. First off, Can I just say that Restaurant Week is just frickin fantastic? Good company, good deal, good food – if you don’t get excited about restaurant week, you’re just weird and probably not my friend! Restaurants listed in order that we tried them. Enjoy!

Sullivans Steakhouse
What was even better that Houston Restaurant Week was preceded by Yelp’s restaurant week.
- Mango martini: While perusing the menu prior (durh, so I know what I’m ordering beforehand J ), Susan realized they have some pretty awesome happy hour deals - $5 for special martini? Sign me up! The mango martini that was (lick your lips here...).
- Wedge Salad was pretty delicious but it was a lot. I wish it had a tad more dressing but I was already pretty stuffed after eating a majority of this. On the salad scale, I’d give it a 6. My 10 would go to Maggianos chopped salad which is absolutely delish.
- Filet Medium Rare with mashed potatoes & green beans – Tender. Cooked perfectly. Delicious. Entirely consumed. One of the best filets I’ve had in a restaurant in a long while. Still doesn’t compare to my dad’s steaks though!
- Chocolate mousse with mixed berries
- Hilar moment for me: For the special Yelps menu, you had to call in letting them know you were there for that deal. Otherwise, they gave you a normal menu. So why is this important? We soon realized that a majority of the tables that partook, where large groups of Asians – just like us! Have good, cheap food and Asians will come in waves J

VOICE – Hotel Icon
I’ve come to the conclusion that overall, I’m just not overly impressed with hotel restaurants after going to three in two weeks. VOICE was enjoyed by my dinner club. Again, menu was limited but Linds and I read up on reviews of items and had narrowed down to a few choices prior.
- Carneroli risotto with tomatoes, chives and asiago cheese. It was good but not amazing like Picos in San Francisco. Some of my rice kernels were a little hard. Doesn’t matter, I still ate the entire dish. Linds had the Mushroom Soup Capuccino which I think was a better dish. I had a spoonful and it was delicious!
- coulot Steak sous vide served with Yukon potato cream, charred onions and shallot sauce. The meat was a little mealy and after having Sullivans steak the week prior, this was a tad letdown. I was pretty ravenous (the wait for dishes was incredibly long....a strike) and ate a majority of it. The potato and onions – I didn’t finish.
- Strawberry rhubarb crisp with almond oat streusel and ginger Chantilly cream. I never had rhubarb before so was pretty excited about this dish. Again, it was good but not a dish that I’m going to remember or jot down as a top favorite. I ate about half. If I have a dessert dish and don’t finish – that’s a big deal. J
- Overall impression was mediocre. Thank goodness there was good company and wine J. Setting was nice with big chairs but atmosphere was definitely the feel of an open hotel restaurant. Service was mediocre since it took a long while before we even got our first dish and had to wait a bit in between dishes too. Oh, did I mention the fire alarm that went off but everyone just stayed put? Again, awesomeness.

Rainbow Lodge
I had mixed feelings about this place. Heard rave reviews from several folks. If we didn’t have the off the set menu appetizer, I probably wouldn’t think about going back in the near future. The ostrich was so good, it was enough to make me give this the lodge a second shot. If we didn’t, I think I’d feel like the $35 probably wasn’t all that great of a deal for this place.
- Ostrich was an off the set menu and one of their specials for the day. Um. DELISH. I never had ostrich but so deeeeeelish. If you've never tried, you got-to! Similar to venisen. I think I ate most of it. Poor Ross only had a few bites…
- Garden Tomato Bisque “Chilled” with panzanella salad & basil pistou: one word: Blah.
- Wild Boar Roasted on the Bone w/ spicy fermented cabbage: My first time to have boar! Tasted so much like pork…. Also, so very disappointed in that I had three tiny tiny pieces. I was still very hungry after eating the meat since I didn’t like the cabbage.
- Coffee Crème Brûlée & Cardamom Madeleines: Pretty delicious! But Ross’ Bread pudding was better.
- Overall, atmosphere where you feel like you should be wearing mountain boots and red plaid flannel shirt . Layout of the place is very different. Service was fine. My big disappointment was that servings were so small. I will still hungry after eating this. Come on! We’re in Texas folks, meals come BIG!

Quattro – Four Seasons
Of the hotel restaurants, this was probably the best of the three weeks. Enough for me to recommend this for dinner club? Unfortunately no.
- Olive Oil House Cured Salmon with Fresh Peas, Morel Mushrooms and Tarragon Emulsion was good and not out of the park. Just very fresh smoked salmon which I love so I definitely enjoyed this dish.
- The guys had Cauliflower & Parmesan Gnocco Fritto and I have to say, these were better than my salmon. I was pleasantly surprised by this warm, fried little balls of flavor and juices.
- Grilled Lamb Steak w/rosemary Scented Risotto, Texas Goat Cheese. The goat cheese was kick a**. Love that stuff. YUM. While I usually love risotto, again a few hard kernels. What’s up with that? Lamb – eh, not good enough to leave a lasting impression on me. Still doesn’t compare to the lamb chops at Patranellas.
- Ross had the Oven Roasted Stripped Bass with little neck clams and other stuff. I was actually v. disappointed in this but was happy to tell Ross, I like my dish more!
- Texas Blueberry Crostada for dessert was good not memorable. - Overall atmosphere was again a hotel restaurant. Just not as fun or intimate. Service was good. Valet – not so good. Took almost 20 minutes for them to bring them our car… What up with that?

Feast is cool. The atmosphere here was kickin - I love houses that peeps have turned into a restaurant. This was another clear winner – I’d definitely come back here especially if you are looking for some hearty, England food and you have no plans of working out that day…
- French Fish Soup with Rouille and Croutons was good if you like fishy soup. Good thing I do but be careful if you don’t!
- Crispy Roasted Pork Belly w/Potato Cake and Red Cabbage with Apples – Oh. Meee. Geeee. So good but I love love love pork belly so you really can’t disappoint me. Also, this dish was enormous. Literally, I made a tiny dent and the leftovers alone were two more meals. Highly rec this if you go.
- Orange tart was okay. I picked out the orange slices and ate the tart alone.

So Masraffs totally took me by surprise! We tried this place several years ago and were definitely not impressed when coupled with the price tag. Didn’t even consider it for restaurant week but Ross’ mom wanted to try and woot, am I glad we did. The best restaurant we went to. It’s definitely on the verge of top five for me right now since this meal was so good. AND cute little Mr. Masraff came by the table to see how we liked the meal.
- Three Mushroom Ravioli w/Truffle Oil and Lemon Sage – it’s hard really to mess anything up with truffle oil and this didn’t disappoint. These raviolis were Ah-Mazing. Only downside – wish I had more b/c I could eat this for my main dish!
- Ross’ Garlic Seared Calamari w/Oyster Mushrooms and Soy Reduction was also surprising. No, no – don’t think of those silly fried calamari. We’re in Masraffs – where they are thick coins of breaded calamari that were again, Ah-Mazing! I’ve never had calamari this way and don’t know where else I would find this
- Paella Risotto w/Diver Scallop, Prawns, Rock Shrimp and Texas Dry Sausage Stewed in Saffron Stock with Carnarolli Rice. So good!
- Warm Triple Berry Bread Pudding w/White Chocolate, Blueberry Compote and Cream Cheese Mousse. I was SO full but managed to be a team player and finish this entire dish. Beware for those ordering this dish though – that fluffly, creamy blob of goodness sitting next to the bread pudding, not cream but cream cheese. A tad too much for me and I think they should have omitted this.

August 22, 2009

Easy Chicken Drumsticks w/Ginger Apricot Marinade

Chicken is one of the easiest things to cook. I also love that it is so versatile. I had several drumsticks defrosting in the fridge and came across this recipe from Sassy Radish. Voila! Dinner of ginger apricot chicken is it!

What’s my favorite chicken dish? Wingstop lemon pepper chicken wings with their fries that are sprinkled with salt and sugar. Who knew sugar on fries could be so good? Ugh, I can’t tell you how much I love fried chicken wings. If I could eat these at least once a week without gaining any weight, hands on, I would. Heck, I’d eat them twice or three times a week.

This dish is fast and most importantly easy. I can make the marinade the night before and then when I get home from work, just pop them in the oven and cook some rice. 30 minutes later, I have a delicious dinner!

I suggested this dish to my sister who was not as big a fan as me. However, she didn’t pour the marinade with the chicken in the pan to cook. I think that makes a big difference. Not only does it help with a great glaze coating, but I opened and spooned the marinade over the chicken twice while I was cooking. Again, can I say YUM?

Apricot-Glazed Sriracha Ginger Chicken
From Sassy Radish who loosely adapted from

1. For ingredients, click
here for list. The only difference I did was use a different type of hot sauce instead of Sriracha and I only used drumsticks.

2. Peel garlic and ginger. Add to food processor and chop, chop! Add the apricot jam, soy sauce, water and hot sauce. Grind until well blended.
3. Wash and dry the drumsticks. I can’t tell you how important it is to rinse meat you buy from the grocery store. You never know what’s it has gone through. Put in plastic bag and add the marinade. Let sit for at least an hour. I usually like to do it the night before and let it sit overnight.
4. Oven to 400 degrees. Put chicken and the marinade into pan. Bake for 30 minutes. I checked at 10 minutes and spooned some of the marinade on top. Did it again at 20 minutes. Make sure chicken is done at 30 minutes – cook longer if it’s still a tad pink or if you poke it with a knife and red juices come out, cook another 5 minutes or so.
5. I served this with rice, which is good to balance out the sweetness of the chicken. Next time, these would go very well with some green beans.

August 16, 2009

Lobster and Corn Chowder

I have wanted to try this recipe for a long time but since this is such a decant recipe, I needed several mouths to feed. Last weekend, my sister and soon to be brother-in-law came into town to celebrate Chinese Father’s Day and this was a perfect chance for me to make this dish. It definitely didn’t disappoint but man, was it a lot of work! Similar to mussels in white wine, dipping toasted French bread into the soup was even yummier. This wasn’t the healthiest dish either…..with lots of cream and whole milk, but isn’t that alway the case? Mmm hmmmm.

Would I make this again? I don’t know if this was worth the time or if I did something that was way too complicated. If I can buy pre-cooked lobster, that would probably shave 30 minutes off the prep time, but, the real time consuming part was extracting all the meat from the shells. This took us another 25 minutes and there were three of us too! Also, this was a pricey meal so not sure I’d make this again unless it was a very special occasion. And, while this was so good, you probably need a side dish as well.

So….I probably won’t be making this for a while and I wish I had a team to help prep food because, Barefoot Contessa, you made this look waaaaay too easy!
Lobster and Corn Chowder
Recipe by Barefoot Contessa

1. Click
here for the ingredients. I’m not posting since this was my first time to make it and didn’t change a thing. Clean the lobsters with a quick scrub and remove the bands on the clinchers. In a big pot, add some water and put the lobsters in to steam for roughly 15 minutes. I reserved the water/broth for later. Take them out and cool for 10 minutes.
2. Take all the mean from the lobsters – shells, claws, everything – and don’t throw away the shells. One tip for the small legs instead of wasting them, I use a rolling pin and start from one end and roll out the meat to the tip – a tip from Alton Brown (love him!). Use the back of a knife on the claws. Cute the meat into big chunks.
3. Cut corn from cobs and keep kernels for later and cob for the next step. In a big pot, melt butter and add the onions until glassy. Add the sherry and paprika. Add the milk, cream, wine, lobster shells, corn cob and bring to a simmer. Cover with a small peek and let it cook for a good 30 minutes.
4. After 15 minutes, start another big pot and brown the bacon (I used Pancetta bacon). Take the bacon out and then add the potatoes, onions, celery, corn kernels, salt and pepper. Cook for maybe 5-8 minutes until smells all yummy.
5. So take the stock and remove all the shells and cobs. I drained it slightly to not get any shells.
6. I also added in roughly two cups of the lobster broth (from when I boiled/cooked the lobster) and cooked for another 10 minutes. Add the stock to the veggies pot and let it cook for another 15 minutes until potatoes are done.
7. Add lobster, chives (which I didn’t do) and bacon. Now enjoy with the rest of the wine that you didn’t use for this dish!

August 02, 2009

2:1 - Lemon Arugula Pasta w/Herb Pork Chops

Ahhh…. Lazy weekends are always a good refresher. Had the luxury of waking up late, making some quality coffee and enjoying morning shows while lounging on the couch. Before I knew it, it was almost one and we hadn’t had any lunch! While Ross went out on a search for sandwiches, I remembered I had some thick pork chops in the freezer – there’s dinner!

Pork chops are tricky. Depending on the thickness you have, they can overcook in a blink of an eye and then who wants hard, chewy pork? Not me and certainly not Ross! During my last trip to the grocery store, I was surprised to see thick (roughly 1.5 inch) pork chops. They’re usually sliced thin, so I was extremely excited about getting something a little meatier and had high hopes to actually cook it perfectly.

How have I cooked pork chops in the past? Hrm….not well apparently. I typically season with salt and pepper and then pan cook them until they’re done – slice and had with veggies and rice. I’ve crusted them in bread crumbs mixed with seasoning and pan cook – these actually turn out pretty tasty. Or I’ve buttered, S&P and herbed them and popped in the oven, which are not as good since my oven can get testy and before you know it, it’s already overcooked before the allotted six minutes! The trick is trying to cook them but keep all the yummy juices inside the meat until right before you cut a piece to eat – hasn’t happened for me in a long time.

So, not surprisingly, the recipe I used was from Giada. She had a recipe for a dry herb rub pork chops topped with onion marmaletta. I know I was cooking for Ross too but really, I can’t make something I know I don’t like so the onion marmaletta went out the door. Sorry Ross! The only thing I did differently (simply because I didn’t have it) was omit the rosemary but I substituted for dry oregano instead. The pork chops turned out beautifully! They had a ton of flavor, were juicy and complemented the citrusy pasta I made as well.

Well, pasta goes well with almost any meat in my opinion. I had lemons and arugula/spinach I needed to use so why not a recipe with all of it? Simple and from my other favorite Food Network cook – Ina Garten. You can really taste the citrus in this pasta - gives it a little zang! which I loved.

Herb Crusted Pork Chops
Original recipe by Giada
Serves four
Since I didn’t change a good portion of her recipe, I’m not posting the ingredients. You can check it out
here but I’ll walk through what I did below. I cooked it a little differently but the ingredients were almost the same – minus the rosemary.

Combine dry oregano (recipe called for rosemary but I didn’t have), fresh thyme lightly chopped, garlic and S&P. Make sure your pork is cleaned, rinsed and dry. Rub the herb mixture all over the pork, both sides. I let it sit for roughly 15 minutes (you should probably do longer but Ross and I were getting hungry!).
Heat your grill. With a paper towel, pour a little bit of oil and then rub paper towel over the grill.
Grill the pork chops for seven minutes on each side. Since I used my inside grill, I actually put a bowl over the pork chops while they were cooking to help trap the heat and cook a little better – like a real grill! I like to let it sit for just a few minutes to let it cool slightly and to keep the juices locked in. I put them on a plate and covered again with a bowl to keep the heat in.

I didn’t have parsley so didn’t use that. I made a balsamic reduction – just heat on low, balsamic vinegar until thick. Pour just a little bit on top of pork. Or not. The pork chops were actually really tasty that it didn’t need anything else. Pairs well with citrus pasta.
Citrus Pasta
Original recipe by Ina Garten with my adaption

1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 pint heavy cream
2 lemons (zest and juice)
1 orange (zest and juice)
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
½ lb angel hair
1/2 pound baby arugula & spinach mix
1 bunch of fresh chopped basil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1. In pan, heat olive oil, add garlic and cook until you smell it and right before it gets really brown.
2. Add the cream, lemon zest and juice, orange zest and juice, S&P (as much as you’d like so taste test while cooking).
3. Let it come to a small boil and then reduce for 10 minutes. Heat up the butter in microwave and then add the flour. Mix until paste. Add this to the cream mixture to make sure it is incorporated completely.
Bring pot of water to boil to cook the pasta – I did this a tad too early so had to let it sit while I made the cream sauce. Recommend that you start cooking right when you leave the cream mixture to simmer for 10 minutes. 5. When cream is thick, add pasta, arugula, spinach and basil to pasta and then the cheese. Mix thoroughly and then eat!