Archive for May, 2007

Odds and ends III

(Continued from last post)

Miscellaneous things I made in the past five months…

When I needed a MAJOR arm exercise

My first time making semifreddo and what a success (and a workout!) Whipping is definitely my favorite step in the whole baking/dessert-making process. With just one whisk and your bare hands, you can turn viscous egg whites or thick heavy cream into glossy white clouds that are light as air. Pouf! Like magic. Of course, if you have an electric mixer then by all means, use it and save yourself from the sweat session and forearm cramps. But if you’re not pressed for time, I highly recommend whipping by hand. It’s therapeutic and it makes me feel like superwoman.


Whipping egg whites

Originally I was going to quadruple the recipe since the dinner was for 15-20 people (shoutout to my drum troupe!!). And then I started whipping the egg whites, then I whipped the heavy cream, and then I went back to whipping the second batch of egg whites…yeah you get the idea, semifreddo is a hella lotta whipping! If you feel like your right forearm (or left if you’re a leftie like me) is getting a little too flabby, this is the ultimate dessert to make. I ended up only doubling the recipe.


Folding in ground pistachio with whipped egg whites and cream

I pretty much just followed this recipe from Gourmet–the Jan ’07 issue has so many good recipes–and then chopped up more pistachio to go on top for more crunch. The texture turned out amazing–super-light yet deliciously creamy. Who needs an ice-cream maker when you have forearm muscles? So simple and the result was definitely worth all that whipping.


Voila! Pistachio semifreddo

When the fridge and I needed to detox

Seriously in need of a major detoxification, both the fridge and I. And what’s a better way to cleanse ourselves than a salad? An “everything goes” salad no less!


Dainty asparagus spears glossed up with olive oil ready for roasting

First I started with a layer of roasted asparagus, then a generous shaving of pecorino, followed by slices of fresh plums (or I guess not that fresh considering they’d been hibernating in the refrigerator for quite some time…). Next I made the apricot vinaigrette: extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, shallots, apricot preserve, salt and pepper.
Then I tossed some mesclun greens and diced apples in the vinaigrette, topping it with crispy fried pancetta. And then, to finish it off in true gaudy style, an apple swan. 😀


Salad of mesclun greens with apples, plums, and crispy pancetta in apricot vinaigrette on a mat of roasted asparagus with pecorino


The apples and arugula were slightly bruised. Oops.

When I channeled Gilbert

Although his expertise is probably more sushi than Filipino food, Gilbey inspired me to make chicken adobo. Unfortunately, something went wrong and it didn’t turn out exactly as I’d hoped.


Chicken adobo, supposedly

G: hmmm, it’s good but it doesn’t really taste like adobo I’m used to.
A: mmm yeaaa…

When Gilbert channeled Giada de Laurentis

And then he watched Giada on the Food Network, and she inspired him to make the spinach puffs. They were yummy!


Cheese and spinach puffs

When I had my cheese-y breakdown

Remember how I had that amazing caprese at Mozza and suddenly became obsessed with burrata? I found it at Murray’s Cheese Shop one day and couldn’t help giving it a shot.


Burrata on chilled roasted beets with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (trial 1)

The Italian import came wrapped in white plastic and “river bamboo leaves,” all covered in “river water.” The minute I got home, I untied the package and tried a little portion on roasted beets. I took my first bite and it was unsettling; the burrata didn’t taste like what I had at Mozza at all. It was not creamy or runny or any of those things I was expecting. Extremely disoriented from my first trial of the cheese, I emailed my cheese authority and asked. I was so confused and desperate. It’s my first cheese breakdown and I hope it’s also my last.


Burrata on chilled roasted beets (trial 2)

But by the time I received his informative reply, I’d gone for a second trial. This time I cut through the center and lo and behold, there was runny liquidy thing in the middle! Just imagine the excitement. The difference in texture was vast. Again, I put a little dollop on each slice of roasted beet, followed by a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. It made for a very satisfying afternoon snack!


Odds and ends II

(Continued from last post)

Miscellaneous things I made in the past five months…

When we turned 1412 into House of Flying Pajun

Here’s when BFF and I tried to be Korean and sent pancakes flying all over my kitchen. We only missed once! But then B Oppa came home…


BFF is a master at flipping the pajun/buchimgae

B Oppa: (stepped into the kitchen, sniffed the air) You made buchimgae?
A: It’s haemul pajun. They’re too thick I think.
B Oppa: It’s buchimgae.
A: I’m pretty sure it’s haemul pajun? The seafood pancakes?
B Oppa: It’s buchimgae! And they should be thicker than this. Smells good though.

Sometimes you think you know…but you really have no idea. The haemul pajun recipe here gave me pretty good results. I haven’t played around with it that much yet, but the pancakes were yummy alright.

Haemul pajun/buchimgae?

When I finally tried that Ruth Reichl’s Swiss Pumpkin recipe (and failed)

You remember those cute little squashes featured in this post? So one day G asked me, “So Anisa, are you ever gonna cook something with those small squashes? Or are they just for photo op?”


I decided it’s about time to put them squashes in the oven rather than in front of the camera. After all, I’ll admit they’d been sitting there for quite some time ( but hey, they made an excellent rustic accent to our eating area). A recipe for Swiss pumpkin from Ruth Reichl’s Comfort Me with Apples immediately came to mind. I’d been wanting to try that recipe forever, and sugar dumpling squash is just like a miniature pumpkin right?

I cut off the top of my petite squashes, scooped out their innards, and stuffed them with layers of bread and a mixture of eggs, cream, gruyere cheese, and spices. Since the cavities were so small, I wasn’t able to fit that much custard in each of the squashes. Instead of gooey cheesy goodness, I ended up with a wet glob of bread and virtually no custard in each squash bowl. It would’ve been perfectly fine if I had used a pumpkin or a bigger squash, but oh well, I guess another time!


Swiss sugar dumpling squash

Despite the taste failure, I still think it turned out ridiculously cute, and seriously, isn’t that all that matters? =p

When we couldn’t resist Valentine’s Day romanticalness

To celebrate Valentine’s Day and our collective fabulousness this year, M, S, BFF and I got together for a romantic soiree at a certain clandestine location overlooking the Manhattan skyline. (guess where? =p)


The tablespread

Chilled Prince Edward Island Oysters with Date Emulsion
oysters, dates, apple, shallots, thyme, cider vinegar, grapeseed oil, salt, pepper

Salmon and Hamachi Ceviche
salmon, hamachi, bell peppers, pomegranate, fuyu persimmons, cucumber,
blood orange juice, lemon juice, dashi, soy sauce, mirin, rice wine vinegar

Bacon-Wrapped Enoki on Skewers
bacon, enoki, soy sauce, dashi, sesame oil, mirin, black pepper

Cold Soba with Wakame Seaweed and Cucumber
soba, wakame seaweed, cucumber, furikake, dashi, mirin

Lavender crème brûlée
yolks, cream, sugar, vanilla beans, lavender

Berries with Moscato d’Asti Sabayon
Moscato d’Asti, yolks, sugar, mixed berries

Riesling, Champagne, Moscato d’Asti



Raw Oysters


Salmon and hamachi ceviche


Bacon-wrapped enoki on skewers


Cold soba with wakame seaweed and cucumber
There was supposed to be uni in this but Citarella ran out!


Lavender crème brûlée




Moscato d’Asti Sabayon


S getting amused by the strawberry

Odds and ends I

Time to clean up my to-blog list!

Miscellaneous things I made in the past five months…

When we ran out of Kraft singles

Sriracha tuna salad, Sichaun peppercorn pickles,
Pecorino crisp and mesclun greens on rye

The original plan was tuna melt, but then I had to change my agenda slightly due to the lack of Kraft Singles. But fear not! When there’s a will (to eat), there’s always a way. Luckily I found a wedge of pecorino in the fridge, so I just grated up a good amount and crisped it in a dry pan on the stove–this would make a good snack on its own too with some extra seasoning. For the tuna salad, I mixed canned tuna (in water, drained) with chopped onion, a portion of mayonnaise and an equal portion of Sriracha hot sauce, then finished with a squeeze of lemon. I love the Sriracha-mayo combination. It’s a great way to cut calories without compromising the taste. I piled the tuna salad on a piece of rye, followed by a few slices of homemade Sichuan peppercorn pickle, then the mesclun greens, and finally the cheese crisp. I guess you could call it a tuna tartine.


Pecorino crisp

For the Sichuan peppercorn pickles, I used a simple pickle recipe from Epicurious as a reference for the vinegar/water/sugar ratios and then made modifications to it (lots of garlic and crushed Sichuan peppercorn instead of dill). Pickling is actually a lot of fun because you can really go wild with the choice of spices/flavorings you put in the brine. Plus it takes only five minutes but it makes you feel really domestic, which is a good thing (as Martha Stewart would say :p). Then you let the pickles soak up the yumminess of your self-designed brine for 1-2 weeks, and there you have it, your very own homemade pickles. Now how about homemade Koolickles? *cringe*

When the weather outside was frightful


Tom Kha Gai – hot and sour chicken soup with coconut milk and galangal
(hah, wordy enough for ya?)

Nothing warms you up like a bowl of soup, and here’s a really great one: Tom Kha Gai. Besides keeping you warm on a chilly day, the kha in Tom Kha Gai can help alleviate your stomach discomfort, help with indigestion, remedy vomiting, treat diarrhea, improve circulations to your hands and feet, and even cures hiccups. This is not counting the health benefits from lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves–miracle soup indeed!

(“Kha” is the Thai word for galangal. It is a relative of ginger.)

Tom Kha Gai is among my favorite Thai soups to make because most Thai restaurants in the States just can’t get it right; they butcher it with too much sugar and coconut milk. The result is a disgusting, depthless, overly thick, cloyingly sweet soup. My grandmother would raise hell at the taste of it (I am so serious). Tom Kha Gai in its true form should not have any sugar in it, and the ratio of coconut milk to chicken broth:stock should be no higher than 1:3. The key is to use enough herbs–galangal, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves–so the soup gets sufficiently infused with their flavors and aromas. Another crucial ingredient is lime juice, because it cuts through the richness of the coconut milk and chicken fat. Most restaurants tend to use too little lime juice resulting in something that is either too salty or sweet, or just plain flat.

Tom Kha Gai (hot and sour chicken soup with coconut milk and galangal)

1/2 lb. chicken breast/thighs/drumsticks (sliced if using breast)

6 cups chicken broth or water (or a mix)

1-2 cups coconut milk

2-4 stalks of lemongrass, cut into short pieces, and pounded

3-6 kaffir lime leaves

5-10 slices of galangal

2-4 fresh Thai chilies, pounded

lime juice and fish sauce

1) Boil the chicken broth or water in a pot. Add the chicken and simmer until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

2) Add lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and galangal. The quantity to use for each herb really depends on whether the herbs are fresh or frozen and also your liking. I like my soup very aromatic so I usually throw in a lot more of each thing than what most Tom Kha Gai recipes call for. It’s probably better to add a moderate amount at first then keep tasting and adjusting along the way. Let the soup simmer.

3) After simmering and infusing for about 8-12 minutes, add the coconut milk. Again, add a moderate amount at first, and if it’s not rich enough then you can add more later. Season the soup with fish sauce and lime juice. This is like a titration process; you just keep adding a little bit of each until it hits that right balance of flavors, just like when the solution turns pink.

There should be a pronounced sour taste, followed a salty and then spicy taste. The subtle hint of sweetness should only come from the chicken/chicken broth. If you like smoky flavors, you could substitute dried chilies for the fresh kind or even use a combination of the two. For more contrasting texture, you could also add oyster mushrooms to the soup (just make sure to add them towards the middle/end of the simmering so the mushrooms don’t become too flaccid).

Tom Kha Gai is extremely aromatic and piquant but still mild enough to be drinkable. This makes it likable even too people who are less adventurous with food, and I have yet to find a person who doesn’t like it. Among my biggest Tom Kha Gai fans are BFF and R. BFF is a very picky eater. R basically eats everything, literally. Once he was drinking the soup and he said, “These things are very fibrous. I can’t really swallow them.” So I replied, “Uhhh, those are herbs. They’re not for eating…they’re just there for the aroma. You might be able to eat the galangal, but definitely not the lemongrass. Dude, do they even taste like you should be eating them???”Then R said, “Which one’s lemongrass? But if they’re not for eating then why did you put them in there anyway?? Witch.”

Just remind me to make a bouquet garni with galangal, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves next time. You should too, so someone won’t try to chew and swallow the herbs then choke to death.

Where to get Thai herbs:

I get mine in Chinatown. Udom’s Thai and Indonesian Store is a tiny hole in the wall jam-packed with all things Southeast Asian ranging from spices and condiments to dried food and frozen herbs. For Tom Kha Gai, I can usually find frozen galangal and frozen lemongrass here. Obviously, they won’t have as strong aromas as their fresh counterparts so you’d have to use more of them. Bangkok Center Grocery is exclusively Thai, and here you’ll find fresh, hard to find herbs like galangal, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, and even more exotic things like pandan leaves.

Udom’s Thai and Indonesian Store
81 Bayard St.
New York, NY 10013
(212) 349–7662

Bangkok Center Grocery
104 Mosco St.
New York, NY 10013
(212) 732–8916

To be continued…

My holy grail

This below is my holy grail. What the hell is it? You ask. I agree it does look suspicious.


The holy grail

For the past month or so, I’ve been completely obsessed with the frozen yogurt at Bloomie’s. I know it’s been there forever before the advent of Pinkberry and its clones–you see lots of them on the West Coast–and before all this plain yogurt/bacteria-y flavor craze, but what can I say, I sort of just tried it for the first time last month…and now the lost sheep is back in the herd!

I was an instant convert. From the very first spoonful I knew this would be a serious long-term obsession. First of all, the texture…oh the texture…it was unbelievably rich and creamy yet light at the same time–light but gloriously substantial–which was what set it apart from all other frozen yogurt out there. And the taste…it just tasted like real yogurt–refreshingly tart and just amply sweet plus none of that crappy synthetic aftertaste (hello Tasti?). This sounds silly, but I think my first taste of it probably ranked among my top 10 most transformative food moments. FROGURT FOR LIFE!

The two weeks after that momentous day were marked by a wretched state of perpetual longing (for the Frogurt of course!). See, normally I’m a go-getter kind of girl especially when it comes to food; however, it was final exam period and I was just too screwed this time around to peel myself away from them books. I remember feeling really torn one day literally considering cabbing it to the Upper East Side to get that one cup of frozen yogurt–haha, J can testify. Then I did some online research and found somewhere that the Frogurt (the brand of the mix?) was also available at Zabar’s cafe and Lalo (though according to M, Lalo’s machine was always down, boo). But oh my, it was a milestone discovery. Now only a 15-minute subway ride separated me from pure yogurt bliss.

And then (drumroll!) somewhat miraculously, the hellish exam period ended. J, M and I went to celebrate our doneness at Tomoe, hurrah! We stuffed our faces with amazing fresh fish and despite our full stomachs, dessert seemed to be in order. Of course, what else other than the frozen yogurt from the Soho Bloomie’s! Oh so conveniently close by! So tipsily (sake-induced), we frolicked over to the Soho Bloomingdale’s and each got ourselves a helping of this:


Plain and Blueberry flavors from the Soho Bloomie’s

Simply heavenly…though we all agreed that 40 Carrots on the Upper East Side was the better place to have it. After that day, a series of tragic frozen yogurt incidents followed:

1) Some day about 2 weeks ago, 7PM

D and I were banging on the doors of Zabar’s cafe hoping that they would let us so we could have “just one cup of frozen yogurt pleeeeassee.” They did not let us in =(

Lesson learned: the cafe at Zabar’s close at 7PM

2) Same evening, 9:25PM

Against our better judgments, J and I rode the subway to the Upper East Side Bloomie’s hoping against hope that 40 Carrots would still be open. The department store itself wasn’t even open =(. We went to Serendipity and stuffed ourselves to stupendousness instead.

Lesson learned: Bloomie’s closes at 8:30PM on weekdays.

3) First day of banking boot camp, 7:30PM

Immense Frogurt craving descended after a long day of Excel training. So right after it ended, I ran to the PATH station, took the train to WTC, transfered to the 2 to Times Square, then switched to the N and got off on Lex–it’s 8:14PM, hurrah!!!! I sprinted down to the lower level, literally sprinted, in heels and all (only 16 minutes left!!!). Finally, I got down to the lower level, but the cafe was already closed!!!!!! Almost broke down right in front of the sign saying, “open daily: 10AM – 7PM.”

Feeling utterly defeated, I trotted back to the train station. It’s almost 9PM so the cafe at Zabar’s was already closed and Lalo’s machine was probably down again. I had no other option but resorting to Plan B: Pinkberry. So I went down the subway station and took the N back downtown, then out of my extreme frazzledness, I got off on 53rd thinking I was going in the wrong direction, crossed over to the other platform, then suddenly realized I had been on the right train. Oh my goodness, can you imagine? I went back to the original platform and proceeded downtown, then finally got off on 34th, feeling like a pile of poo. I got out of the station and walked over to Pinkberry, and guess what? The line went all the way out to the street! Well, I was already there so I joined the line anyway, waited and finally got myself a medium-sized cup of the Original with three fruit toppings (because it’s cheaper than a small with three toppings for some very odd reason).


Original Pinkberry with strawberry, kiwi and mango

But damn, that $5 something cup did not pacify my craving at all. It was just way icy and too insubstantial in texture, especially compared to the Bloomingdale’s yogurt. Majorly unsatisfied, I ended up going to Woorijip and got a bunch of panchan and kimbap to appease myself. HAR

Lesson learned: 40 Carrots Cafe hours = 10AM-7PM

And finally a succes story!

Then the next day, my second day of training, I got back to Manhattan around 6PM. After all that trouble and disappointment I went through the previous day, I really wasn’t craving the frozen yogurt that bad anymore. But still, it’s the principle of it! That’s what really matters! I got off my 1 train at 79th and tada! Zabar’s was right across the street. Just imagine how delirious and accomplished I felt walking into the Zabar’s Cafe seeing the frozen yogurt machine with the signs “Zaberry Plain” and “Zaberry Strawberry” on it. I walked up to the counter and the following conversation ensued:

A: Hi! Can I have a small plain please?
Z: Sure.
A: (Saw quart containers. Eyes widened, as much as they could…)
Oh my god, you have bigger containers I can take home??? Can I get a pint?
Z : This? (Held up a pint container)
A: Oh my god, that’s way too small. Can I have a quart? A gallon? Whatever biggest size you have. I was here at 7PM the other day and the wouldn’t let me in. He wouldn’t let me in!!! Iwas sooooooo saddddd.
Z: Uhhh, haha ok. I can get you a quart.
A: Ok, thank you! (Smiled my brightest smile!) I lovvvve your frozen yogurt. I just lovvvvee it!

Missionn accomplished =)

A whole quart in my freezer!!! 24 hours access!!!

40 Carrots (at Bloomingdale’s Upper East Side)
59th Street & Lexington Avenue
1000 Third Avenue New York, NY 10022

Zabar’s Cafe
2245 Broadway (at 80th St.)
New York, NY 10024

7 W. 32nd St.
New York, NY 10001

May 2007
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