Archive for February, 2007

I’m screwed for midterms but…

YAY

On relationships

mmmm.jpg

Pretzel sticks + Nutella = A match made in heaven

joke.JPG

Pretzel sticks + Nutella + me = one big love-hate relationship

peanut-oil.JPG

Irresponsible food industrialist + lax FDA rules = one big deceiving relationship. LIES!!

transfat1.jpg

So is it possible to have partially hydrogenated oil and no trans fat? I googled it and apparently, somebody was asking the same question on chowhound. Solution? Go to Buon Italia and get the Italian made kind so you can drown your anxiety in a trans fat-free jar of Nutella. Or better yet, get the 6.6lb version and now you can drown your stress and also your face in that enormous jar of happy hazelnut chocolate goo, sans trans fat!

Thai-style Chinese New Year

I’m a loser. I make resolutions. I break them. I make promises. I don’t keep them. I said I would post a gazillion entries so I could be up to date by last Friday. I did not do it. You should pull a Lisa Novak on me right now!! (Please check out that clip. It’s hilarious!!)

But aside from the whining, I just want to say Happy Chinese New Year to everyone! A, P and I had planned to wake up early this morning to make traditional Chinese breakfast (ish): chicken congee and tang yuan (sweet dumplings). But in true loser’s spirit, I slept past the agreed rendezvous time and therefore didn’t have enough time to soak and slowcook the rice – oh well. So instead of jook, I decided to make rice porridge, not the Chinese style xi fan though (would have made the xi fan but didn’t have enough ingredients for the side dishes). The chicken rice porridge I made was more like the Thai style khao tom. If it’s chicken porridge, you call it khao tom gai. If it’s shrimp, then call it khao tom goong. You get the idea. Khao tom in Thai literally means boiled rice. If you have to rank them in descending order of mushiness then it goes jook << xi fan << khao tom, or at least from my own experience with mushy, watery rice (I think risotto would go somewhere in between xi fan and khao tom).

xifan1.jpg

Khao Tom Gai (Thai style chicken rice porridge)

Khao tom gai might seem a little malapropos for the occasion, but if you think about it (by that I guess I mean if you know that I’m part Thai part Chinese, which you probably do if you’re reading this blog =p ), it’s actually quite befitting that I was celebrating Chinese new year with Thai style breakfast. The khao tom gai I reconstructed of course wasn’t all that authentic. Traditionally, you would use jasmine rice, the national grain of Thailand which is well-known for its subtle fragrance and nutty flavor. Its texture is also a little harder than that of the grain varieties normally used in Chinese/ Japanese/ Korean cuisine if you cook them for the same length of time. My broth is a mix of chicken broth, water and dashi. *gasp* My Thai grandmother would not approve of that at all, lol – only homemade stock made from chicken carcasses!!! (that’s what she would say). And then, which faux pas are we up to now? And then, I marinaded my chicken with a combination of soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, mirin, and white pepper. In true Thai tradition, you would garnish your khao tom with egg omelette confetti, crispy fried garlic, and scallion. I followed that one! (although my egg ribbons were far from paper-thin, but I’ll try again next time.)

Components for khao tom gai:

1. steamed rice
2. bite-size chicken pieces seasoned to your liking
3. chicken soup
4. paper-thin egg omelette cut into dainty ribbons
5. chopped scallion
6. crispy fried garlic (minced garlic+vegetable oil. microwave for 3-4 min.)
7. white pepper (the peppery taste is very very essential to the whole assembly of flavors.)

Layer your khao tom gai components in that order and you get this:

xifan2.jpg

If you ever have a hankering for a soothing yet nourishing breakfast, ok you know what I’m going to say =p

Cookshop: the addendum

I finally went to Cookshop for brunch last Saturday! (as I had so giddily announced in this entry after a romantic proclamation of my love for the place).  Here’s evidence:

beignets.jpg

Buttermilk beignets with winter fruit compote and apple cider sauce

We started out with the beignets (again, per Sofia‘s recommendation). This is one of Cookshop’s most popular items and very rightly so. I really loved the fruit compote.

benedict.jpg

Poached eggs with Virginia ham and multigrain toast in three-cheese fondue

The beignets’ plate was wiped clean in less than five minutes, but even after that we were still agonizing over which brunch items to order. Aditi settled for the poached eggs in three-cheese fondue and I went with the huevos rancheros.

huevos.jpg

Cookshop’s interpretation of huevos rancheros

Our eggs arrived, and my oh my, I thought their dinner portion was extremely generous, but brunch portion was humongous. Aditi‘s poached eggs (so amazingly spherical!) came poised atop a thick slab of Virginia ham, all resting on a wholesome hunk of multigrained toast. Then, the best part of all, the whole thing was happily drenched with three-cheese fondue. So rich and so good! Calorie-counters, this is not the place for you.

And then, there was my huevos rancheros. Here’s the breakdown: three baked eggs, tomato ranchero sauce, really good beans, lime-creme fraiche, red onion, jalapeno & cilantro salsa, and monterey jack cheese. Very tasty and aesthetically pleasing to boot! I especially loved the red onion + jalapeno garnish.

Needless to say, we didn’t have room left for dessert, but even without the dessert we were already in paradiso (and actually went on to Chelsea Market for more fooding fun). Again for the second time, I really really recommend Cookshop for both brunch and dinner. But if you decide to go for brunch, please make sure to go with a beastly appetite, and dude, get the beignets!

Easy breezy Japanesey

I apologize for the long hiatus. No, I haven’t been that busy with schoolwork; it’s procrastination. *gasp* Sad but true, I procrastinate even with my blog!  Someone needs to put a stop to this disgusting situation. A clamorous call for rectification! I will do my penance for this lapse, and that translates to whatever number of posts this week so I can be up to date by Friday (a rather ambitious goal…oh god). Brace yourself for an overdose of new entries – two weeks worth of gluttony, oh my.

enoki-pasta.jpg

 Spaghetti with enoki and Japanesey mesclun salad

Since the start of this semester, I’ve found myself going back time and again to the Japanese quarter in our multicultural pantheon of condiments. Thanks to Gilbey who makes it his duty to ensure that the Japanase has ample representation in our kitchen. But ample or not, I have grown quite an appreciation for them Japanese condiments. I highly recommend that you stock your pantry with the fab four: shoyu (soy sauce), dashi (stock/broth made from kelp and dried fish flakes), mirin (Japanese rice wine), and rice wine vinegar. They are extremely versatile and make things delicious with minimal effort on your part (or my part in this case). 

So resulting from my newfound obsession was what I’d like to call easy breezy Japanase-y cooking – copped-out, simple dishes that rely heavily on the umami-ness of certain Japanase condiments. One of my current favorites is enoki pasta, a quick dish that gets its dose of umami from the shoyu, dashi and mirin. Butter is an obvious choice for the fat here because it not only adds oomph but its taste and smell also complement the shoyu flavor very well.

Spaghetti with enoki and Japanesey mesclun salad

for the pasta:
Spaghetti, enoki, butter, garlic, shoyu, mirin, dashi stock, black pepper, dried seaweed and parsley for garnish

for the salad:
mesclun greens, grape tomatoes, dashi stock, mirin, olive oil, furikake

*quantity not specified because I’m lazy and also because it really depends on your taste.

1. Boil the spaghetti.

2. While waiting for the pasta to cook, tend to the mushroom. Melt butter in the skillet (I use 1 tbs). Add garlic and wait until it’s softened. Add enoki and all the condiments. Play with the flavors until it suits your taste. Be careful not to overcook the enoki.

3. Pasta is done! Add the nooldles to the skillet. Flavor-check one last time. Finish with a little bit of freshly ground black pepper, dried seaweed and parsley.

4. For the salad dressing, mix dashi, mirin and olive oil together. Drizzle it on the mesclun greens. Mix well. Finish with a generous sprinkle of furikake.

soba61.jpg

Sesame crusted tuna, cold buckwheat soba salad, sauteed shitake mushroom

That same Sunday I made the enoki pasta, I remember I went on to make a more full-blown Japanesey meal for dinner. All the credits to James who insisted that we eat his tuna, proceeded to cook the tuna, and took all these pictures once again.

soba2.jpg

James made these super-photogenic tuna (recipe here)

Since the guy was adamant about searing tuna, I was relegated to fashioning the sides. First I made a simple cold soba salad with crisp cucumber julienne using the same dressing that I made for the mesclun salad I ate earlier for lunch. I happened to have shitake mushroom on hand, so I sauteed it really quickly with butter and the same three condiments I used for the enoki pasta I ate earlier for lunch. Hah! How uninspired. But together, they made a light and balanced meal with the fish as the main protein anchoring the dish, the cold soba for carbs and refreshing taste, and the buttery shitake to round out the flavors.

soba1.jpg

Cold soba salad with cucumber and dried seaweed

soba5.jpg

I’m only putting this picture up so I can credit Ry for the placemats and chopsticks that he got for me from Shanghai. Haha, how thoughtful of you Ry!

To further prove my point of the easy-breeziness of this Japanese-y style of cooking, the following salad was put together in literally one minute. I took out a bowl and threw in some mesclun greens, leftover buckwheat soba, smoked salmon and grape tomatoes. Then I poured in a little bit of dashi, mirin and rice wine vinegar (no need for oil! very diet friendly) and finished with a dash of furikake and dried seaweed. It made a very satisfying and healthful (albeit a little sodium-laden) lunch.

salmon-salad.jpg