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Friday, January 30, 2009

Big City Girl Cap

one time when i was a kid, i don't know how old but still young enough that i required having my hand held when crossing the street, i was on the bus with my mom. it was a city bus. it required me to lift my stumpy legs up high to even get up the steps. as part of my reward for being such a trooper, my mom let me hold her newsboy cap. get this. it was magenta and made of leather (or maybe pleather). it was the height of early '80s fashion. and now brad pitt has decided to bring that look back. anyway, i didn't like to wear it because it was too big for my head but i wanted to hold it. lord knows why, it's not like it's a hand accessory! my mom kept reminding me to not let it go. naturally, that's exactly what i did. when we arrived to our stop and we were walking to our destination, my mom realized that the bright ass pink hat was not in my hand or on my head. i kid you not, it was literally a blank canvas in my head as to where the hat even was. i think i even denied ever having been in possession of it. i could not recall for the life of me where i put the hat. obviously it was left on the bus and there was no way of ever getting it back, the energy exerted to find it would not have been worth the effort. and my mom knew that. bless her heart, she was so disappointed. thankfully, i didn't get in trouble for being so careless.

up until recently i never was a big fan of hats. not only because it flattens my hair but because i'd lose the damn thing. not even during the blossom craze did i long to own a hat. i may have worn a baseball cap in college to mask my unwashed hair during exam week. then about a year ago i learned how to crochet in the round and i busted out a few beanies and baby sun hats. they were so easy to make that i could misplace one and just make another! even better: fun frogger hats! a few weeks ago my cousin kim sported the cutest city cap from anthropologie. it was adorable and made of yarn! i decided i wanted one, especially for my trip to NYC.

big city girl cap

scouring ravelry for the cap pattern was hard. it took awhile i finally found one that i liked. Celeste Young of Celestial Creations designed the cutest cap. her City Girl Cap pattern was pretty easy to follow. i made a few modifications. my brim isn't as long as hers, i wanted it closer to the anthropologie style and i added a few lines to the body to ensure that my ears were covered. it's still kinda big on me so my next one will either be made with a smaller hook or i'll take out a ring or two. i might add a few buttoms or an extra crocheted band for contrast, or maybe some flowers. the possibilities are endless!

city girl hat

today's song: 'Til Tuesday, Voice Carry

Thursday, January 29, 2009

January Daring Bakers' Challenge: Tuiles

This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

Dear Fellow Daring Bakers,
i actually participated this month. aren't you proud? i had plans to make these a few times during the month... i thought of shaping fortune cookies for lau and then i thought maybe i could bake some up for Tết dinner... only i was too lazy when it came time for lau and i was too busy to even attend Tết dinner. furthermore, i had it in my head that the deadline was this coming Saturday, giving me some extra time to, you know... procrastinate.

what i liked most about this month's challenge was that the recipe calls for a reasonable amount of ingredients. i wasn't sifting like 5cups of flour and searching up some odd spice, which is a major plus in this downer of an economy. as a result of these plusses, i didn't even mind the minor pain i felt in handling the hot cookies as i folded them to my will. in my first attempt, i rolled a few to make cigars, to be filled with a sweet ginger cream cheese icing. the 2nd and last attempt, i made two butterflies and two fortune cookies. let's just say, artiste i am not. they tasted great tho. light, crisp and mildly sweet. honestly tho? not really worth all the effort. they don't even stay fresh for very long, it's best to be consumed the same day it's baked.

for more fantabulous creations that will cause you to lick your screen, hit the Daring Bakers Blogroll or even better, The Daring Bakers Foodgawker. until next month, keep those ovens warm.

from my rice paddy to yours,
love and sunshine,
Angry Asian


from “The Chocolate Book”, by Angélique Schmeinck

Yields: 20 small butterflies/6 large (butterflies are just an example)
Preparation time batter 10 minutes, waiting time 30 minutes, baking time: 5-10 minutes per batch

65 grams / ¼ cup / 2.3 ounces softened butter (not melted but soft)
60 grams / ½ cup / 2.1 ounces sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar (7 grams or substitute with a dash of vanilla extract)
2 large egg whites (slightly whisked with a fork)
65 grams / 1/2 cup / 2.1/4 ounces sifted all purpose flour
1 table spoon cocoa powder/or food coloring of choice
Butter/spray to grease baking sheet

Oven: 180C / 350F

Using a hand whisk or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (low speed) and cream butter, sugar and vanilla to a paste. Keep stirring while you gradually add the egg whites. Continue to add the flour in small batches and stir to achieve a homogeneous and smooth batter/paste. Be careful to not overmix.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up. (This batter will keep in the fridge for up to a week, take it out 30 minutes before you plan to use it).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with either butter/spray and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This will help spread the batter more easily if using a stencil/cardboard template such as the butterfly. Press the stencil on the bakingsheet and use an off sided spatula to spread batter. Leave some room in between your shapes. Mix a small part of the batter with the cocoa and a few drops of warm water until evenly colored. Use this colored batter in a paper piping bag and proceed to pipe decorations on the wings and body of the butterfly.

Bake butterflies in a preheated oven (180C/350F) for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Immediately release from bakingsheet and proceed to shape/bend the cookies in the desired shape. These cookies have to be shaped when still warm, you might want to bake a small amount at a time or maybe put them in the oven to warm them up again. (Haven’t tried that). Or: place a bakingsheet toward the front of the warm oven, leaving the door half open. The warmth will keep the cookies malleable.

If you don’t want to do stencil shapes, you might want to transfer the batter into a piping bag fitted with a small plain tip. Pipe the desired shapes and bake. Shape immediately after baking using for instance a rolling pin, a broom handle, cups, cones.

Sweet Ginger Cream Cheese Icing
i made it up because it was in my fridge

a few tablespoons of soft cream cheese
a few teaspoons of ginger syrup

i don't have exact measurements. i just mixed it all together, making sure the cream cheese didn't get runny but i wanted it to be sweet.

it paired well with the light cookies. too bad once i put it all together, i was too busy eating it and didn't whip out the camera. i'll have to use this icing again.

tuiles 2

Today's song: 112, U Already Know

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Gingersnap Cookies

this will be the first of probably many sugared ginger recipes. if you can't tell, i'm on a major ginger kick right now. i like gingersnaps but all the recipes i've ever seen for it calls for molasses which i'd never reallly seen in the markets. altho, now that i know where to look, i see it all the time. my friend Trish sent me a container of her gingersnaps for xmas this year. i was instantly smitten. i tried to convince her to bake them often and send them to me. no dice. her husband doesn't like the smell of the cookies as they're being prepared, but he does like them once baked. i'm with him. molasses stinks. the stench of it actually made me gag. the smell is so foul to me that i'm almost 100% certain that i won't ever make these cookies again, but will cross my fingers that Trish will send them to me whenever she makes them or i have to convince Kelcy to make them for me and ship them up. i followed trish's recipe but then i also noticed a recipe on 101 Cookbooks for Triple Ginger Cookies that calls for the use of ground ginger, fresh grated ginger and then minced crystalized ginger. i decided to use that idea, as well as maybe a splash of my ginger syrup. yeah i know, ginger'd out much?

ginger snaps

Gingersnap Cookies with 4 kinds o'Ginger
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, inspired by 101 Cookbooks' Recipe

2 1/4 c ap flour
1 c packed brown sugar (i actually only used about 3/4 cup since i was using syrup)
3/4 c shortening or cooking oil
1 egg
1 t baking soda (actually, i put in 2tsp because i was going to double the recipe then changed my mind... hmmm... see my verdict...)
1 t ground ginger
1 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground cloves
1/4 c sugar (put on a plate and use for rolling dough in)

my additions:
1/2 cup of minced sugared ginger
1/4 cup grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup of ginger syrup

oven 375 degrees F

In a mixing bowl, combine about half the flour, the brown sugar, shortening, molasses, egg, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed till thoroughly combined. Beat in remaining flour.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in 375 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes or till set and tops are crackled. Cool cookies on a wire rack. Makes about 48.

my verdict:
i need to find a way to convince trish or kelcy to make these for me often. the extra tsp of baking soda made the cookies too thin for my liking but they were still chewy in texture. the ginger everywhere makes for an invigorating ... snap to the senses, which i dig. i still have half a batch in the freezer that i'll be baking up the troops next week.

ginger snap 2

any suggestions on how to remedy the flatness of these gems?

today's song, Fleetwood Mac, Dreams

Monday, January 26, 2009

Cabbage Roll Soup (Canh Bắp Cải Cuốn Thịt)

Chúc Mừng Năm Mới! Today marks the first day of the year of the Ox. there're a number of things i generally do on the first day of the new lunar year. i try to wear a new outfit (if spending money permits), i have lemons and oranges in the house, i try not to speak ill about anyone and kelcy and i make plans to call each other first thing in the AM. it's so important who your first visitor in your home is, as well as who you speak to first on the phone. it sets the tone for the rest of the year.

with my cooking spurt as of late, particularly in the vietnamese cuisine realm, i wanted to make a traditional dish to bring in the new year. my vietnamese cookbook has a recipe for a classic soup dish, saying it's popular during Tết. um. i've never heard of this dish! i don't recall ever eating this during Tết growing up. however, the picture looked good and seriously, why not start the year trying something new, right? i will say, we vietnamese like to stuff our veggies and put it in stock. we like our wintermelon, bitter gourd, tofu and pretty much anything else stuffed.

stuffed cabbage soup 2

Cabbage Roll Soup (Canh Bắp Cải Cuốn Thịt)
Authentic Recipes from Vietnam by Triệu Thị Chơi and Marcel Isaak

1 cup ground pork
4 fresh medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and mashed or ground in a food processor to yield about 1/2 cup
4 tbl minced shallots (about 6 shallots)
3 tbl minced coirander leaves (cilantro)
1/2 tsp slat
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1 lb large cabbage leaves, blanched until soft
10 whole spring onion green, blanched until soft, for fastening
6 cups chick or pork stock
2 tbl sliced spring onions to garnish
2 tbl fish sauce, for dipping

Combine the pork, shrimp, shallots and 1/2 of the coriander leaves in a large bowl and mix well, then season with the salt and pepper. Place a heaping tablespoon of the mixture onto a blanched cabbage leaf. Fold one end of the leaf over the mixture, then fold in the sides and roll up tightly. Tie the roll securely with a spring onion green. Repeat with the remaining ingredients to make a total of 10 rolls. Bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add the cabbage rolls and simmer for about 5 minutes until cooked. Remove from the heat. Serve the soup in individual bowls with a sprinkling of spring onion and pepper, as fish sauce as the dip. Note: the cabbage should be blanched in a pot of boiling water, not in the stock, for 3-4 minutes, to soften it for wrapping.

my note: i didn't bother with the green onions tie the rolls and i didn't have any cilantro handy. however, the soup came out lovely. i made it bland on purpose since there was the fish sauce to dip it in. it sooooo reminded me of my ông nội, which of course made the meal all the better for me. i also made my own stock out of the ground pork. i'm not much of a cabbage person however i really enjoyed this dish. and at 99cents a head, i should purchase it more.

stuffed cabbage soup

here's to wishing everyone a prosperous and healthy New Year, one filled with luck and happiness.

.:Cooper's Tavern in NYC:.

for christmas, jab gave me a weekend in New York, complete with hotel, dinner and show. so we spent a leisurely day around new york, taking in the sights. around 1 we made it back to our hotel, The New Yorker, and grabbed a drink at Cooper's, a restaurant/bar connected to the lobby.

it was middle of the day, there was one guy sitting at the bar talking on the phone and watching the soccer game. jab wanted to watch the basketball game (md got completely schooled...). i was hungry. i perused the menu and it's so hard to get used to the price difference! i chose spaghetti with duck sausage meatballs. something pretty safe but still interesting.


it came out in a pretty bowl. the noodles were al dente, bit more so than i normally like it but jab liked it. i loved the meatballs. what i liked most tho was that it wasn't overwhelming. it was just the right amount. normally, i get inundated with food in my face at restaurants. overall, the waitstaff was in the background, probabl preparing for the evening rush. maybe a few more people came while we were there. we left a few hours later, only to return again for happy hour and there was an actual crowd.

coopers 2

Friday, January 23, 2009

Candied Ginger and Ginger Syrup

this week has been a flurry of activity. finishing off carla's baby blanket to be ready to ship really set me back on time. plus, i've been trying to work on my photography blog. and this week has been especially hectic because i'm preparing for next week. it's the Lunar New Year (or Tết) on Monday. this holiday normally lasts 3 days. as a child, i viewed it as 3 days of doing nothing: cleaning or cooking. it also represented lots of good food, good cheer and lai see. now that i'm older, i can't celebrate for 3 days, as much as i'd like. so the first day is usually the day i partake in tradition, as best i can. preparation is a must. since i can't cook on the first day, i gotta think about what i'll be eatting. since i can't clean that day, i want to make sure my abode is spick and span. what makes all this difficult this year is that i'll be away all weekend in NYC, not returning till Sunday sometime. so all that had to be done before i left.

in preparation, i made a list. i admit, i'm a lister. i like to cross things that i've completed or accomplished off as i go. it keeps me organized and focused. i also like to get the most bang for my buck. if i'm going to make a pork dish for one serving, what else can i make with the remaining portion that is different but easy? (i made two pork dishes this week that i've been able to switch off on every evening for dinner. SCORE!) my next score tho will hopefully garner more than just two dishes. Ginger is a spice that i have a love/hate relationship with. i like it when it's subtle, a background hint to a fish or meat dish, or when added to cookies or cakes. biting into a chunk of ginger is not pleasant to me. HOWEVER, candied ginger? i can pop them in my mouth one after the other like it's... well candy. my ông ngoại used to hand these out to kids. the stuff was spicy. sometimes i would take tiny bites to savor the spicy sweetness and other times i'd try to pop as many as i could in my mouth and kinda sorta not really torture myself.

in recent years, when i bake, i like to add a hint of crystalized ginger. it adds a bit of oomph to them. with ginger being such a prominent ingredient to most asian dishes, i figured for the lunar new year, i'd incorporate this in some dishes. that's next week tho. :) for now, i'll just showcase the homemade candied ginger and subsequent syrup i made on monday. it cost me $3.50 for a pound of a fresh ginger, whereas it's only about that much for already made ginger. maybe i went off season or i went to a really super duper expensive joint but i'm thinking that buying it already made is more economical and time-saving? i enjoyed the process but well. this will require more research and shopping at other places.

candied ginger

Candied Ginger
from David Lebovitz (who, by the way, is a friggin genius.)

1 pound fresh ginger, peeled
4 cups sugar, plus additional sugar for coating the ginger slices, if desired
4 cups water
pinch of salt

1. Slice the ginger as thinly as possible. It can't be too thin, so use a sharp knife. (a man after my own heart, i love slicing things as thinly as possible.)

2. Put the ginger slices in a non-reactive pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let ginger simmer for ten minutes. Drain, and repeat one more time.

3. Mix the sugar and water in the pot, along with a pinch of salt and the ginger slices, and cook until the temperature reaches 225F

4. Remove from heat and let stand for at least an hour. Or if you want to coat the slices with sugar, drain very well while the ginger is hot, so the syrup will drain away better. (i did the latter)

5. Store ginger slices in its syrup, or toss the drained slices in granulated sugar. Shake off excess sugar, and spread the ginger slices on a cooling rack overnight, until they're somewhat dry. The sugar can be reused in a batter or ice cream base, or for another purpose.

Storage: The ginger, packed in its syrup, can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one year. If you're concerned with it crystallizing, add a tablespoon or two of corn syrup or glucose to the sugar syrup at the beginning of step #3. If tossed in sugar, the pieces can be stored at room temperature for a few months.

ginger  syrup

Today's song: A Fine Frenzy, Come On, Come Out

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

boobie prize: baby blanket, yarn purse and beanie

finally. FINALLY! for serious, FINALLY! back in October i participated in a boobie bake off. as a kicker, i had people email me if they donated to the cause and at the end, i'd pull a name out of a hat and make whatever they wanted. my college suitemate Carla won. she requested a baby blanket for her youngest, Aspen. so my hardcore crochet began, along with all the other little holiday projects i wanted to do. naturally, as i crocheted Aspen's blanket, i realized i couldn't very make something for her and not for her siblings Ryker and Mystic! for Ryker, i made a simple beanie. he's five and has started school already. he can wear it at the bus stop or during recess. Mystic is three and i figured maybe a purse would be useful for her. i don't know why but it's girly.


for the purse, i kinda sorta used my friend Trish's pattern. naturally, i deviated a bit but i used her pattern as a guide. i thought of putting a flower motif too but opted for a button instead. i didn't have any already made flowers that matched the purple of the purse. for Ryker's beanie, i didn't follow a pattern, i just went with what felt right and what didn't bore me. i just hope it fits! for Aspen's blanket, i used Happy Yellow House's Jasie Pattern. i pretty much followed the pattern. the border came out lovely but took me FOREVER. it took me most of the weekend and monday night to complete. i think it came out nice, frilly and girlish. the border does that, i wasn't expecting it to be so cute.


i have another blanket to get on by spring, this time adult sized. i'm hoping i don't get bored with the pattern so i can finish it in a timely manner...


today's song: Lonestar, Amazed (this was carla's wedding song)

Monday, January 19, 2009

mini Pecan Cookies

it was a busy weekend of attempting to finish up some yarn projects. alas, a lot of attempt but not much finished. :( i made some apple chips saturday and despite it's bake time of 2 hours, i felt like i was tending to them more than i would've liked. but they turned out exceptionally well. too bad i didn't take pix. no worries, i still have a bag of macintosh apples left to slice up. because of my inactivity this weekend, we're going to go back a month to some bite-size cookies i made.

i made all my presents for xmas. for jab's father, i went with some pecan cookies. initially i was going to attempt some version of peach pie cookies but that just wasn't going to happen when the fruits weren't in season. pecans, however, were everywhere. i used the Life and Loves of Grumpy's HoneyBunch's recipe.


they came out golden, gooey and sweet. i slightly underbaked them as i figured they had to make the trip to TN, but also, in case jab's dad wanted to heat them up, they'd be perfect. and they came out so adorable!


today's song: Credence Clearwater Revival, Have You Ever Seen the Rain?

Friday, January 16, 2009

long awaited: Rice Crispy Treats

i had my first ever rice crispy treat in 7th grade home ec. that's where i learned how to sew (i made a fountain soda pillow) and i beefed with the blondes in my class. this was during the time of pegged jeans and ferocious hair sprayed bangs. i neither wore my jeans pegged nor did i wear my hair weighted down with hair spray. i was ahead of the trend, i wore my hair in a sleek bob, sans bangs, parted in the middle. oh yeah. my appearance was further enhanced, or shall i say, stunted by my oversized round glasses. and by that time, i had also acquired quite the sass-with-me-i'll-sass-you-back-more personality.

on the day that we, as a class, were to make these square gooey treats for the class dance, i was very excited. i was really looking forward to learning about cooking. both peter and my mom cooked, so there wasn't much room left for me to experiment in the kitchen. this was my chance. boy was i disappointed and annoyed when i realized that i would have to share in the duties with a group. a group i did not choose to be in. think of it as the cooking equivalent to being picked last in kickball. these girls, i'm sure they're nice now but back then? they were useless. they talked about boys and the upcoming dance and basically put me on cleaning duty. i didn't even get the chance to stir! when it was all set and done, i had one piece, but it was an unsatisfactory snack. i had no part in making it, other than cleaning up the crumbs. since then, i've never really been a fan of these things.

however, i bought a box of rice crispy cereal for a step in last month's daring bakers' challenge, the challenge i didn't do. it's been hanging out for a minute and i figured i'd make use of it. this time around, *i* not only cleaned up the mess, but i created the mess.


Rice Crispy Treats
from the cereal box

3 tbls butter or margarine
1 10oz package of marshmellows
6 cups of rice crispy cereal

heat up the margarine/butter and marshmellows until melted. add in the cereal. stir till completely mixed and transfer to a casserole dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. allow to cool before cutting into.

this literally took me 10 minutes to do and i was taking my time. perfect for something fast to make for a party... or in my case, the chili cookoff at work.


today's song: PM Dawn, Memory Bliss

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

super duper chocolate-y loaf cake

one of the things i like best about the weekend is sitting around, lazy, with a cup of a coffee. i prefer to watch the lineup on the food network, ensconced in my armchair and flannel robe. it's been a long time since i've been able to do that. if i'm not out of town or busy running errands, then i'm catching up on my sleep. sigh.


this past weekend was no different. i had plans to meet up with my friend Christa at her art gallery, Gallery 321, for some much needed catching up, over coffee. let's just say that because i had decided to hang out with Isabella AND read some after my shift friday night, the wee hours of the morning were creeping by the time i fell asleep and so the meet up actually didn't occur till closer to 2. to make up for it, i brought over a dense chocolate cake, recipe courtesy of the lovely Nigella Lawson. Let's just say this brit knows her chocolate cake. i first saw the recipe from Baking for the Cure, who creates the most decadent dishes and lickable pictures to go with them. it was everything she described: sweet, moist, and not so pretty to photograph.


Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake
inspired by Baking for a Cure, but adapted from Nigella Lawson

1 cup soft unsalted butter
1 2/3 cups dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces best bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
9X5 inch loaf pan

preheat the oven to 375 put in a baking sheet in case of sticky drips later, and grease and line the loaf pan. The lining is important as this is a very damp cake: use parchment or one of those loaf pan shaped liners.

Cream the butter and sugar, either with a wooden spoon or with an electric hand help mixer, then add the eggs and vanilla, beating in well. Next fold in the melted and now slightly cooled chocolate, taking care to blend well but being careful not to overbeat. You want the ingredients combined: you don't want a light airy mass. Then gently add the flour, to which you've added the baking soda, alternately spoon by spoon, with the boiling water until you have a smooth and fairly liquid batter. Pour into the lined loaf pan, and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 325 and continue to cook for another 15 minutes. The cake will still be a bit squidgey inside, so an inserted cake tester or skewer won't come out completely clean.

Place the loaf pan on a rack, and leave to get completely cold before turning it out. Don't worry if it sinks in the middle: indeed, it will do so because it's such a dense damp cake. i think this is the kind of cake that tastes better the next day or the day after.

Today's song: The Cure, Just Like Heaven

Monday, January 12, 2009

different levels of Good: Tri-Mousse Cake

growing up, there were 7 core cousins in the pham-ily, 3 girls and 4 boys. we were all around the same age, give or take a few years. we three girls, buu, kim and i were really close. it just worked out that we got along well. i was the oldest and as such, any craziness buu came up with, i was automatically to blame and in the most trouble. and trust me when i say that buu was capable of coming up with the most randomest of craziness. kim, on the other hand, was quiet, more reserved and shy. as we got older, buu and i took turns being "bad", going thru quite the rebellious phase; the both of us pretty much shocking the living day lights out of our respective immediate phamilies. kim, however, held steady. she never gave any of us a moment of worry, always kind and quick with a smile and helping hand. kim is good, she's on that level. always dependable and...just plain GOOD.

this past weekend was her 26th birthday. buu decided to play personal chef and came up with quite the dinner spread: beef stew, roasted veggies, mashed potatoes and corn casserole. it worked out great for me, i only had to show up with dessert. i chose Manggy's Trio of Chocolate Mousse Cake.


Today's song, Toby Lightman, Real Love (sorry for the advertisement before...)

however, in regards to taste, this cake is in the league of Kim-Good. rich, velvety,chocolate-y and oh so GOOD! happily, she had two slices. the evening was also in the level of Kim-Good: filled with laughter and fun times. further, we spent Sunday together at the mall, doing whatever Kim wanted to do. So to Kim, Happy Birthday sweet girl! :)

this cake, like the dynamic of buu, kim and i, has different levels of good. i hearted the whole method. making the creme anglaise, whipping up the cream in my beloved standmixer (Isabella) and basically being able to lick every single bowl. i doubled the recipe tho because the smallest pan i have is a 9" springfoam pan. i think that i ought to invest in a smaller one tho... what wasn't so hot tho, was the presentation. not so pretty. it wasn't the evenest of layers which was annoying. i also decided to ix-nay the cocoa mirror glaze. i was just really lazy. i assembled this cake late friday night, at 1am, after my shift from the restaurant and i really wanted to finish the last few chapters of Breaking Dawn and well... you know.


Friday, January 9, 2009

Green Beans: 2 Ways

you know when i was a kid, i used to think that the soul was an organ. like a heart or liver. and this Soul Organ was located by the stomach. and now that i'm older, i find that i cook not only to sustain my body's needs but also to feed my soul. how appropriate that my child brain envisioned a separate organ next to the stomach.

which brings me to the green bean dishes i made for dinner this week. this is yet another shout out to Wandering Chopsticks. she made Sichuan Green Beans a few weeks ago which made me realize that i don't think i've ever had this dish. and it looked good and easy and fast to make, which are requirements for me during the work week. i had bought a bag of green beans at the new asian market that just opened and i wanted to put them to use. plus, the dish also made me think of a random scrambled egg dish my parents, grandparents, and buu's parents used to make. such an odd combo but it's so good!


buu tells me that her in-laws love this simple green bean dish, she made it for them for thanksgiving dinner. it's just one of those in a pinch type of dishes. when you come home later than usual from work, and all you have in your fridge is eggs, and random veggies. i guess on the day this dish was created, the person only had eggs ... and green beans. it reminds me of my childhood. my grandmother actually used bitter gourd in replacement too, and it's quite good.


Scrambled Green Beans and Eggs
adapted from buu and the rest of the pham-ily
this recipe will not have exact measurements, it's all about taste and randomness

green beans, cleaned and ends snipped
onions, sliced thin
few cloves of garlic, minced
fish sauce taste
splash of oil

heat up a wok or frying pan with some oil. when ready, throw in the onions and fry til translucent. next, add in the green beans. depending on how much you want your green beans to cook down. i opted to keep them crunchy, as i knew i'd have leftovers for lunch the next day and they'll be soft in the re-heat process. about five minutes. at this point, add in the garlic and sautee together. meanwhile, in a bowl, crack the eggs, however many you would use when making an omelette or scrambled eggs. whisk the eggs till well mixed. back to the wok, position the green beans around the edge, making a well in the middle. pour the egg mixture in the middle and then drizzle it outward. allow to cook somewhat before mixing it all together. i prefer my eggs to be on the softer side of cooked but since my friend Denise was coming over, i made sure it was all cooked thru. it's entirely up to you. towards the end of the cooking process is when i added about a teaspoon of fish sauce for taste.

buu thought it was weird that i had two green bean dishes to chow down with my rice. i bought a big bag!


one of my friends' facebook status mentioned something about old school songs that just make her melt when she hears them randomly. well... just like how this old school dish feeds my soul, today's song also feeds into that nostalgia.

Today's song, Madonna, Crazy For You

i was lucky to see her perform this song in DC during her Reinvention Tour.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Ca Ri Ga in a French Bread Bowl

this here post is an ode. An ode to the INGENIUS Wandering Chopsticks. about a month ago she made Ca Ri Ga Pot Pie. tell me, how friggin BRILLIANT is that?! i mean, come on, really. who comes up with that? i'll tell you. INGENIUS Wandering Chopsticks is who.

anyway, i really liked the idea of a curry pot pie, but not so much the whole making pie crust from scratch. me and pie crust, we don't mix. i'll knead the hell out of bread dough. but pie crust? not so much. i thought about buying it, like the pillsbury stuff or the frozen kind... but i just couldn't. i gushed to buu and be con about this dish. buu says she's made it with bánh pâté chaud pastry and be con says he prefers french bread all the way. i adore ca ri with french bread, but alas, they can be hard on the grill. so what did i do? i decided to make a simple bread bowl, using a french bread recipe, but slightly undercooking it, in the hopes that it would be soft.

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Ca Ri Ga
adapted from the package instructions and from what i recall when my mom and grandmother made this

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
some butter or oil, just for the fat
1 large onion, sliced
3 carrots, diced
3 medium potatoes, diced
2 tbls curry powder
1 can of coconut milk
2-3 cups of water
salt or fish sauce to taste

to start off, fry the potatoes and carrots, in batches, just so the sides stay intact. (fyi, i didn't do this. i was feeling pretty lazy but seriously, it keeps the shape of the veggies). when done, remove from pan and set aside. meanwhile, coat the chicken pieces in the curry powder. with the pan hot, add the butter or oil, then add the onions, sauteeing until soft. next, put the chicken in, stirring until pretty much cooked. pour in the water and bring to boil until reduced in half. add in the coconut milk, stirring to mix well. ***this is when i add the veggies.*** i usually bring the heat down to low and ignore the pot until i'm ready to eat. i prefer the consistency to be on the liquidy-soup side but my mom always made it slightly thicker, almost like gravy. also, be con says his mom puts in two tablespoons of fresh minced lemongrass.

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but because i was going to eat the ca ri in a bread bowl, i opted to make it thicker. i found a lot of sourbread recipes, which be con and i decided would not do. thankfully, i found an easy recipe that looked appetizing. i actually made the dough Monday night and left the dough in the fridge overnight. in the morning, prior to heading out, i took out the ball of dough and put it on the counter to warm up and do whatever it needed to do. it was so easy! rather than making two logs, i just made grapefruit size balls. made a hole on top, tugged out the soft inside and poured in the ca ri. it was wonderful. jab came over and absolutely devoured it, he said it was the best dish i've made so far... until i reminded him of my beef stew and chili. he didn't respond, he was too busy eatting. he even took home a doggy bag, to bring to lunch. my new roommate seemed to like it too.

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the bread was awesome, the bowl came out great, but i think i'll stick to the rice like i normally do. :)

Today's Song: Sugarland, Already Gone.

(that Jennifer Nettles' voice really sings to one's soul...)

"Life is a runaway train you can't wait to jump on..."

Monday, January 5, 2009

sunday night dinner: Lau

for the western new year, buu usually hosts lau at her place. Lau is vietnamese hot pot. i'm so used to eating family style dinners: with multiple dishes in the middle of the table and everyone just picks at it, rather than separate dishes for each individual. Lau definitely embraces that concept. There's a pot of hot broth boiling on a small stove with raw meats, seafood, and veggies surrounding it, ready to be dumped into the soup and cooked right there at the table.

this year, it was hosted by buu's grandparents, poa poa and gum gum. it is always so much fun visiting with them. i arrived early and they tried to teach me how to play mah jong. let's just say that when Tet comes around in a few weeks, there's going to be a lot of smack talk amongst us! :)

so anyway, i wasn't paying any attention to the table set up. i'm not sure if the broth that was used was just regular canned or if buu's mom made it. either way is acceptable. my mom usually makes hers from scratch, also adding in a bottle of beer (but that's a completely different beef hot pot...) there were fishballs already bobbing in the broth.

the first to usually go in are the meats and seafood, they just take a bit longer to cook. we had a selection of shrimp, beef and squid. i tried to convince everyone to do like the japanese and do shabu shabu. i saw it on Iron Chef once, you just swish the beef in the hot broth twice and that was it. it was still too kinda raw tho and no one did it.

next came the veggies, which take no time to cook. we had mushrooms, and various greens: bok choy and watercress and some others that i don't know the western names for. everyone is responsible for themselves and each other. it's just so much fun to eat this style, very homey and familiar.

there was a salty black bean sauce for dipping. i should've asked for the recipe, it was delicious. poa poa made it on the stove, it came out warm and thick.

i heart sundays like that.

today's song: Kristine Sa, Consequence

Friday, January 2, 2009

Gorgonzola soup topped with Caramelized Pear

i bought some gorgonzola cheese and pears this week in the hopes of participating in December's Recipes to Rival challenge but laziness struck me and i ixnayed that idea. now i had to figure out what to do with the combo. i was quite pleased to see a luscious Roasted Onion and Gorgonzola Soup on foodgawker from Northwest Noshings. easy enough, warm, soothing and comforting. exactly what i wanted to make on the first day of the new year.


the only things i omitted were the bacon and heavy cream. i used milk instead. this dish actually turned out completely vegetarian. i used left over veggie broth i had in the freezer from the miso butternut squash soup i had made in November. the thyme in the broth adds a nice hint of herb to the soup. i am so enthusiastic about this soup! i didn't bother with any other seasoning. i did kinda forget about the pears as they were carmelizing so they're a tad bit on the burnt side. oops! still very good tho!

i can't begin to say how incredibly sinful this soup is. i've always liked the combo of the slightly pungent gorgonzola with soft ripeness of pear.


today's song: Yiruma, River Flows in You.

***note: this song is actually, when played by a full orchestra is called Bella's Lullaby and was featured in the movie Twilight and arranged by Carter Burwell. the arrangement on piano is that of Yiruma, who is friggin amazing.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

3 Apps and 1 bum

Dear Recipes to Rivalers,
it's now your turn to receive my apologies. i was a bum in December. there was just too much going on. i had good intentions tho. i was going to at least make one of the 3 appetizers, but alas, i realized that since i was going to boycott NYE, and i wasn't going to bring them to some party, and i didn't want to eat them all myself, it seemed kinda wasteful. but i didn't come to this conclusion until after i had bought the gorgonzola cheese, crackers and pears. oops!

i endeavor to be a better participant in january and the ensuing months this year.

December's challenge was hosted by Temperance of High on the Hog and Jen of Delightful Delicacies. Check out what everyone did for their challenges at the Recipes to Rival Blogroll.

All my best,
Angry Asian