Monday, February 4, 2013

Lemongrass Pork Rib Bun

Sometimes it feels like yesterday - the sounds of motorbikes zooming past, the smells of incense in the muggy air, the vibrant colors of produce at the food stalls, and the wonderful tastes of Vietnam. It was over two years ago that my husband and I got to backpack around beautiful Southeast Asia. We ate everything in sight and were never disappointed with the flavors of the food. I brought home great memories and stories from this trip, but I also developed a whole new respect for balancing flavors. We ate what inspired my post today, lemongrass pork, one Friday night at an outdoor restaurant in Ha Noi. We sat on tiny plastic chairs and drank beer and rice wine, listened to a man sing karaoke, and ate one of the most memorable meals of our lives with a few local businessmen.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Minestrone Soup

Here's my minestrone soup recipe to get you through the last of the cold weather. This recipe was inspired by my mom - she would make this soup to help warm us up during the cold and foggy San Francisco summers! It's hearty, flavorful, and healthy, packed with lean protein, whole grains, and tons of vegetables. It's a perfect meal any time of the year!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

"Jenga" French Toast with Mascarpone-Honey Whipped Cream and Plum-Cardamom Jam

The title says it all - this decadent brunch will have your guests drooling for more!

Initially I thought french toast "Jenga" just sounded like a fun idea. But once I ate it I realized that this was the perfect form for french toast. The sticks absorb the egg mixture and the increased surface area allows for more caramelization, giving the french toast extra texture and flavor.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Eggplant and Zucchini "Parmesan"

A little while back I ate out and had an amazing eggplant parmesan. It was decadent - battered, fried, and layered with loads of mozzarella cheese. I enjoyed every bite of my dish but started to think about how to lighten this brick of a meal up a bit.

So here's my version, a healthier but equally delicious and fulfilling meal. I used grilled eggplant rather than batter-fried eggplant, toasted sourdough bread circles, and a little bit of asiago and provolone cheese to give a great punch without the guilt of eating a whole ball of mozzarella. In addition, I used my homemade tomato jam instead of a traditional sauce. At the end of summer I canned over 75 pounds of tomatoes into sauces and jams. My recipe for tomato jam calls for slow roasting in the oven with olive oil, garlic, and herbs - the flavors become so concentrated and delicious. I decided this would be the perfect sauce for my dish, since I am cutting back on the fat and making this dish healthy - I wanted something that packed an extra flavor punch.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mac and Cheese

It's been a while since I've updated this blog with a new recipe. Here in Utah we've moved from warm weather in early fall to cold days with occasional small snowstorms, which have left accumulation in the mountains on the Wasatch Front.

So during these winter-like days I am craving and making comfort food. For those of you that are familiar with my cooking style, you know that I try to cook from scratch with fresh ingredients. I avoid eating processed foods - heck, when I lived in DC for the last 6 years I never owned a microwave. I do however have a weakness, and it's Stouffer's mac and cheese - I LOVE it! Even when I was microwave free I would buy it (on occasion) and bake it in my oven, which was a 45 minute commitment to get my cheesy, starchy fix.

I've made mac and cheese from scratch at home and it has never really satisfied my craving - somehow it's always been granular and lacking in flavor. So this week I attempted to make macaroni and cheese again, learning from my many mistakes in the past, and I feel like I finally found a recipe that's a keeper. It isn't low fat, and it's not healthy, but it's good, tasty, comfort food at its best.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Niçoise Salad

It's officially Fall, and I am basking in the sunny, warm days of Utah. Since we had a late growing season here. I am  taking full advantage and stocking up on the great end-of-summer produce that's overflowing from my local farmers market. This week I got ripe tomatoes, green and yellow wax beans, and the sweetest corn on the cob. To utilize my great produce and use some recently gifted items, I decided that a niçoise salad would be an appropriate dish for an early dinner.

The niçoise salad is from Provence, traditionally consisting of fresh vegetables, hard boiled egg, canned tuna, anchovies, and olives (specifically niçoise olives). In my version I decided to use the principle of local seasonal ingredients to build my salad. It's not a traditional niçoise but everything was chosen based on what's in peak season, in my pantry, available to me in the market, and - most importantly - what I love!

My parents visited recently and brought me some high quality canned tuna from their last visit with Sasha in Victoria. The tuna was the perfect protein for this healthy salad. I bought lettuce and potatoes from the grocery store to go with my seasonal produce from the farmers market. I also have fresh eggs from a neighbor with a chicken coop. Fresh eggs from free-grazing chickens are something special! Just look at the color of the yolk - orange, vibrant, and so incredibly flavorful! I love oil-cured olives and decided that I would forgo the traditional niçoise olive in this recipe to get in a few of these delicious ones instead. Here's my version - delicious, healthy, and satisfying!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Wasabi Soy Salmon with Pineapple Fried Rice & Pickled Daikon

I recently bought some amazingly fresh wild Copper River salmon and have been brainstorming ways to do this fish justice. Here's what popped into my head - pineapple fried rice with salmon and pickled daikon. The pineapple fried rice is sweet, savory, spicy and tart, and it pairs nicely with the rich buttery salmon. To tie it all together I pickled radish and cucumber to cut the fattiness of the fish and to highlight the freshness of the herbs in the rice. This meal was outstanding! The fried rice was my favorite - the flavor combination of sweet, salty, spicy, and tart transported me back to the streets of Bangkok.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Made it! Salty Oat Cookies

These salty oat cookies are something special. Sasha and I have been making these cookies for the last couple of years and getting rave reviews from friends and family. This recipe has been tried, tested and approved!

I love this cookie because it's easy and versatile - I've made this recipe with raisins, craisins, dried blueberries and cherries. I'm not a huge fan of nuts in my cookies, so, I leave them out. Go ahead and make your favorite salty oat cookie. Below, I'll tell you how I made mine!

Everyone has a favorite dried fruit, and right now mine happens to be cherries. Sweet and tart, these goodies are my current addiction, so they had to make an appearance in my cookie post. I also added 1/4 of a cup of unsweetened cocoa powder to make this a "chocolate salty oat cookie." I love the combination of chocolate and cherry. Since I live in the mountains now I left out the baking soda and baking powder because I didn't want to make it too cake-y. I also added nutmeg to the recipe to give it more spice. I was thinking about adding cayenne pepper but decided to hold off - perhaps next time?

If you're like me and have a hard time just eating one cookie, here's a great tip to conserve the waistline. Take the cookie batter and mold it into a log that has about a 2-inch diameter. Cover with wax paper or plastic wrap and freeze. When you are craving your salty sweet snack, just cut a slice off the cookie dough log and bake in the oven.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Made It! Sweet Corn Salad

I made this sweet corn salad for a potluck BBQ the other day and received rave reviews. I altered Lisa's recipe quite a bit, to cater to my own taste buds.
Rather than raw corn, I decided to use grilled corn - to give the salad some extra flavor. I love the taste of grilled corn, but sadly I don't have access to a grill or gas stove. However, I discovered that you can "grill" corn right on top of the burners of an electric stove. Simply turn the burner on the highest setting and place the corn on top for a few seconds, rotating the corn until all the sides have some grill marks. Adding this simple step gives the corn a deeper, subtly smokey flavor. To the salad, I also added cucumber, avocado, and cilantro. I omitted the red onion since I don't like the taste of it raw. Instead, I minced a shallot and added it to the lime. The acidity of the lime breaks down the shallot to mellow its flavor. I also added a good quality olive oil to the dressing. That was it!!! This salad is so simple and quick to prepare. Just a few veggies to chop, a dressing to whisk together, mix it all together and you're ready to enjoy this healthy, fresh, and flavorful dish.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sweet Corn Salad

Nothing is a better representation of summer's bounty than biting into a freshly picked cob of sweet, juicy, crunchy corn. I am so lucky that I moved to Utah just in time for sweet corn season. Farmers are selling freshly picked corn cobs on a daily basis on the streets in my town. There are a million delicious ways to eat corn but here's one recipe that I love to make as a healthy side dish. No cooking necessary here - who wants to stand over the stove top in the summertime heat? Just some basic knife skills and a little marinating time and you're done!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Just Desserts: Salty Oat Cookies

People always ask me, "What is your specialty?" In the past, I would have been stumped. But after making these Salty Oat Cookies for many different occasions and receiving rave reviews, I concluded that this recipe IS my specialty. These cookie have everything...sweetness from the chocolate, tartness from the dried fruit, and crunchiness from the nuts. They are crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. The salt topping adds a surprising taste that brings all the delicious flavors together. For all of my family and friends who have asked me for the recipe, here it is! And for those that haven't tasted these cookies yet, I suggest heading to the kitchen and giving them a try!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mojo de Ajo

This is an adaptation of Rick Bayless' mojo de ajo, or just plain "mojo" in my house. I cook the mojo about twice a year - yes, it takes a little time and patience, but it lasts forever in the fridge and is so versatile that it's an essential kitchen ingredient! This stuff is liquid gold - it can be used make a quick pasta dish; to marinate proteins escabeche style; to jazz up grilled veggies; and to make the best popcorn EVER. All it takes is olive oil, garlic, lime juice, and salt. So simple, so delicious, and SO worth trying a batch! Just beware - you won't be able to live with out it!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Blueberry Lemon Curd

I love lemon curd - it's the perfect tangy and sweet bite of deliciousness. Each spoonful is rich and decadent yet light and refreshing. Recently I have been enjoying summer's bounty and feel like I have never-ending bowls of berries. So this week I was inspired by some lovely blueberries and created a blueberry lemon curd. Whether you top muffins, scones, bagels, ice cream, or just eat it by the spoonful, this is really the ultimate sweet summer condiment!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Made It! Skillet Granola

I've been making granola for awhile now, but I always used the time-consuming oven baking method. In the past, I have had to plan in advance when I could be home for at least 2 hours to watch the granola slowly cook on a low heat, gently stirring it every 20 minutes. However, after making this quick skillet granola, I will never go back to my tedious original method. It took me only 30 minutes to make this skillet granola from start to finish. Just think of all the extra time I now have to make other delicious treats!