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.