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Monday, November 30, 2009

butter & jam thumbprints

i haven't been baking much lately, it's a conscious decision on my part. i go thru so much flour and sugar, plus my hips just can't take it anymore. however, this past weekend, with all the savory goodness that thanksgiving brings, i had a craving for something sweet. i was not in charge of desserts this year so i quite literally had nothing sweet in the abode. after lamenting about it for a full 48 hours to Nuria, i finally got off my ass and threw together some cookies. the recipe is from the back package of some kitchen gadget, not sure which.

the cookies turned out ... ok. fresh out of the oven they were too sweet, crumbly and well, unimpressive. but there were 30 of them and i was not willing to throw them out. 24 hours later, while sipping some tea i grabbed one and the flavors had mellowed. it wasn't as sweet, and lawd, it hit the spot. i used homemade blackberry jam {as in i bought the jam from the cracker barrel}. if i ever make these again, i'd cut back the sugar or use my own jam where the sugar amount is more controlled.

Picnik collage

Butter & Jam Thumbprint

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temp
2/3 cup sugar, plus more for rolling
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup jam

heat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl. in another bowl, whip butter and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 5 minutes. beat in egg and vanilla until just combined. slowly beat in dry ingredients, in 2 additions, mixing just until incorporated.

scoop dough in 1" balls with a cookie or ice cream scoop, in in sugar. place about 2" apart on baking sheet. press a 1/2" deep thumbprint into cent of each ball. fill each print with about 3/4 tsp jam.

bake cookies until edges are golden, about 15 minutes. coooking baking sheets.

Picnik collage

Today's song: Stars, Going Going Gone

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Purple Cauliflower & Apple Soup

a few weeks ago a friend offered up her weekly CSA stash since she was going out of town and didn't want it to go to waste. i jumped on that bandwagon like my life depended on it. i've always wanted to see what the fuss was about, plus, free groceries for the week? call me dorky but the process of just showing up on this random farm out in the county, picking fresh produce, everything so ... close to the earth ... i was quite euphoric. or just suffering from mad motion sickness, cus even when driving i can succumb to the damn thing.

anyway, one of the items i was most excited about was the purple cauliflower. rationally speaking, i know it tastes the same but i've always picked the white variety. i have a block with random colored food. blue stuff? no. unless it's blueberries. florescent orange potatoes? no. don't get me started on black food or red velvet cake. my fave yogurt is blueberry and i know it turns purple but that's the only purple food i dig. until now. cus i can dig purple cauliflower soup. added an apple in there for some sweetness. and mainly because it was hanging out forlorn on my counter. i think i'll continue to do that from now on because it lends such a natural sweetness. i may have hit something here, parents could totally get their kids to eat more apples if they just masked it well enough. just saying.


Purple Cauliflower and Apple Soup

half a head of purple cauliflower, small florets
1 apple rough chopped
1 small onion, diced
veggie broth, or water
milk or cream
splash of olive oil
salt/pepper to taste, added between layers

seriously, this soup was so easy to make. heat up some oil in a pot, enough to coat bottom. add in the diced onion, sauteeing till soft/translucent. salt/pepper. next, throw in the chopped apple and allow to carmelize a bit. salt/pepper. last, put in the cauliflower, allowing them to mingle in there with the onions and apple. salt/pepper. add in enough broth or water to just over and allow to simmer till tender. using an immersion blender, blend till smooth at desired consistency. i added in a ladle full of milk for some creaminess. adjust seasoning.

today's song: The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Your Guardian Angel

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sunday Vegetable Soup

sunday is my favorite day of the week. nevermind that it's the day before Monday, the normal start of a work week. i use this day to start my week. typically, i get myself situated, kitchen stocked for the week and catching up with onDemand shows that i may have missed. it's actually a rather action packed day considering it's supposed to be a day of rest.

some sunday ago i made a trek to a phamily friend's house. H and her hubs R had baby O in june and tho i happened to be in the same hospital the day he was born and i snuck a peak at him, then seeing him briefly again a week later {i hold the distinct title of first and possibly only asian to have held him} i didn't see him again over the summer. that had to be remedied. anyone who knows me knows that i adore holding babies. plus, i had a fear that he was growing up entirely too fast and i needed to hold him again before he could run away from me. H hosted a mini gathering and bless her heart, did not require me to cook anything. sure she wanted to talk food and menu but really, i just showed up with a loaf of rosemary challah (2 hours late, let's just say any night out in dc causes for a painful sunday morning, favorite day be damned), she handed me Baby O and i was in heaven.

lunch turned into quite the food fest, H and R went all balls to the wall. grilled veggies, lemon-herb chicken and oh my, veggie soup. i dub it sunday vegetable soup because it holds all the flavors and essence of a favorite day of the week: warm and hearty, filling and satisfying, but easy to assemble, perfect to tuck into with friends around a crowded dining room table on an autumn sunday.


Sunday Vegetable Soup
from H. she made this soup, with me underfoot holding baby O. i just showed up to chow.
there are no measurements, the way a perfect soup should be anyway, it's all about taste.

onions, celery and carrots, diced same size
chopped caulifower, small florets
Imagine Morrocan Chick-pea bisque
+ water to thin out just a bit
can of diced tomatoes (you can use fresh if you want)
chopped kale
corn, canned or fresh
cumin, red pepper flakes and coriander to taste

the following is the recipe in H's words.

- saute onions, carrots, celery and some red pepper flakes if you like spicy
- add chopped cauliflower (you want really small florets) and saute another few minutes
-add the stock which is the "Imagine" brand (whole foods sells it and other places I think) box soups- style is "Morrocan Chick-pea bisque) and I also add some water to thin out the stock. cook until carrots and cauliflower are soft. at some point in this process (like 15 minutes after the stock, add a can or two of dices tomatoes cook a little longer.
-Add chopped Kale- or some other green leefy veg.- let it wilt.
-About 10 minutes before serving, add either a can or fresh corn.
-Also, season with lots of cumin and some coriander. No need to salt.

today's song: Greg Laswell, What a Day

Monday, November 16, 2009

Candy Sushi & Individual Soft Center Chocolate Cakes

my friend Angela recently asked me to make some sweet treats for her daughter Natalie's 10th birthday party. naturally, since i had dressed up as Princess Jasmine and Pochahontas for Nat's birthdays in previous years, i jumped at the chance to participate again. This year they had an asian theme. the girls dressed up in either chinese or japanese dresses, fried rice and sesame chicken was served and i made the candy sushi. i also begged Angela to let me make the cake as well. Natalie is a huge fan of Applebee's chocolate lava cake so i found a recipe that mimics it. i made twelve individual ramikan size cakes for her friends to enjoy.

the night before the party, nuria and i sat side by side, sweatshop-style, in front of the tv and basically resisted the urge to chow the eff down on the candy. with just three simple ingredients to create the candy sushi, it was the ideal mindless creation while we watched Grey's Anatomy. the rice crispy treats were in thin sheets, the twizzler acted as the filling and the fruit roll up wrapped it all up in a tidy package. any leftover edges of the rice crispy treats were turned into nigiri sushi with swedish fish on top. SO CUTE!

for the birthday cake, i chose a very simple but sweet cake. i figured the individual servings for each girl would be a nice treat, the gooey middle a surprise and the ice cream to wash it all down. can i just say those girls were sugar happy?!

Picnik collage

Individual Soft Center Chocolate Cakes
from Ghirardelli
4 servings

8 Tbl unsalted butter
1 bar (4oz) Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet chocolate baking bar (i used semi-sweet)
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbl cake flour (i used AP flour)

Melt butter and chocolate in double boiler. Whip eggs, yolks, sugar and vanilla with a mixer for about 10 minutes on high speed. Fold melted choclate and butter into the egg mixture. Fold in the flour just until combined. Butter and sugar four 6oz ramekins then spoon even portion of mixture into each. Bake at 450F for about 9-10 minutes. The center will still be quite soft but the top and sides will be set. Let sit, out of the oven for baout 5 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Picnik collage

for inspiration, i went here: How to Make Candy Sushi

Thursday, November 12, 2009

sunday supper - Baked Lemon Salt & Pepper Chicken

yes. i've been lazy lately. i haven't had much inclination to cook blog. i even boycotted twitter for 3 days. i just don't feel like being here. so without further ado, i present a dish i made sunday. it was a pretty day, warm and bright but i hadn't left my place all weekend. not even stepped out on my fire escape. i was feeling pretty damn anti-social, much like how i'm feeling right now about this here blog.

i chose wandering chopstick's Salt, Pepper, Lemon, Basic Baked Chicken recipe. what can i say, i jock the girl. i pretty much followed her recipe except i was an idiot and completely forgot to throw in the herb. she uses rosemary and i had a few sprigs of thyme hanging out and simply forgot until ... oh when i sat down to eat. yeah.


the only modificationa tweeks somethings i made to this recipe was the accidental ix-nay of an herb and i used two quarter pieces of the chicken. despite the lack of herb, it was still a successful dish. next time around (i'll be making this again very soon with the bff in NC when we prepare for the twilight saga: new mooon premiere. yes, be jealous...) i will add an extra lemon. the citrus freshness was very subtle, too subtle and i'd like it to be more pronounced.


Today's Song: Kings of Leon, Wasted Time

Friday, November 6, 2009

Volt - Ladies Lunch

i realize i have a separate blog that i devote to mainly restaurant reviews, trips etc. however, i have been lacking lately in going out much, or even taking trips. i could blame it on the economy but i won't. it's more that i can make (or attempt to) the food at home at a fraction of the cost. i could post this there but because i'm currently in the midst of vapidly following the Voltaggio brothers like a fangirl, i'll post it here.


back in late August, during DC's Restaurant Week, i joined my cousins and nuria on a trip to Frederick, MD for lunch at Volt and some antiquing. now, i took some good pix but i couldn't even tell you what everything was. i can tell you that while the food was delicious, the service was spotty. for the large group, we had a separate, private room. (i think it's also because buu knows the hostess and is friends with Chef Bryan's wife... yeah, i totally name dropped, don't be jealous...) she enjoys that type of VIP service. for me, i would've preferred to be with the rest of the crowd, to see what they're eating, how their server compared to ours, that kind of thing. it's me judging. it's what i do.

Picnik collage

irregardless, it was a lovely sunday - warm, sunny, inviting, the perfect day for a simple lunch and strolling thru downtown frederick hunting up used goods that somebody didn't want anymore. buu, nuria and i went with the wine pairing. we figured why not? never mind that i'm not a wine connoisseur, i stick to pinot grigio or Riesling but whatever. i do recall that i had ordered the pork but somehow ended up with the steak, and even tho buu had also gotten the steak, she and i had different red wines. it seemed like such a hassle to tell the server the order was wrong (i can't think of a time, ever, that i've sent food back or caused a fuss.) i chalked it up to a busy service and for me, a learning experience: i'll return to Volt when it's not restaurant week.

Picnik collage

i will say that the beet salad was wonderful, it was around that time that i had first tasted beets, enjoyed the flavor so decided to see how the chef prepared it. yep, i made my beets fine since it tasted pretty much the same, altho they have me on presentation. there was some cold corn soup that was ok. the steak was nice, but my favorite was the dessert. it was like a chocolate plate. chocolate mousse, chocolate powder, chocolate squiggly thing, chocolate cookie... i loved it.

Picnik collage

at the time, i left feeling a little let down but i've come to realize that there's very few times i've gone to posh restaurants during Restaurant Week and left happy. something about the quality of service and food that goes down during restaurant week, it's rushed, harried -- not how it normally would be if you paid full price for everything. i suspect my feeling of wanting to give them a second chance has to do with the fact that Chef Bryan is kicking some major ass on Top Chef. whatever the case may be, buu and i have been trying to get resos for Table 21 and they are booked solid till the Spring. phooey.

Today's Song: Groove Theory, Tell Me

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Honey Mustard Pork Chops

do you remember that childhood book Charlotte's Web by EB White? i read the book in 3rd grade. i loved it. almost as much as Harriet the Spy. i liked the idea that animals talked to each other, that they had friendships formed, a daily routine that they stuck to. who knew that a rat could be helpful, or that the goose was such a snob? most importantly, it was beyond amazing to me that a spider could spell better than me. all for a pig named Wilbur. during the weeks that my class read this book, me skipping ahead of the class most nights to see what happened next, i never put the correlation between Wilbur, the pig in the book, to the pork we usually ate for dinner. pork was a fairly routine protein at the dinner table growing up, it's cheap and easily assessable. it never clicked that, whoa the pig i'm hoping is saved in the book may also be the pig i'm chowing down on (thịt kho anyone?) oh the innocence and idealism of a child.

i've cooked with pork before but not much. yes, i've made some pretty awesome pork loin dishes this summer found here and here, but pork chops... they were on sale recently, i grabbed the container and on sunday, while Nuria lazed about nursing a hangover, i busted them out for a quick and easy supper. luckily, i had a few crisp apples to pair with the other white meat, along with leftover kale. it's the personification of Autumn. poor charlotte may have saved her Wilbur but the pig on my plate sunday nite was luscious, cooked just thru and the added sweetness of the apples brought it all home for me.

what childhood books do you recall reading that stays with you still... from just the storyline or what the characters ate?


Honey Mustard Pork Chops
adapted from The Everything Cooking for Two Cookbook

2 TBL olive oil
2 center cut bone in pork chops
salt and pepper to taste
2 TBL butter
2 apples, cored and cut into wedges
enough Dijon mustard to coat the chops
3 TBL honey

preheat oven to 450F. heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet on a medium high. season pork with salt and pepper, and brown well, about 2 minutes per side. take out of pan, set aside.

wipe out pan and add the butter. heat on medium until it stops bubbling, and add the apples. season with salt and pepper, sauteeing for about minutes or until the apples soften slightly and brown. remove the apples from the pan and keep warm.

mix together the honey and mustard and rub on top of the pork chops. place the chops on a baking sheet and roast for 6 minutes. let rest for a few minutes and serve with the apples on top. (i don't like my food touching so mine was served side by side)

for the kale, i used this recipe.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Recipes to Rival: French Onion Soup

Dear Recipe to Rivalers,
it took me 3 days to make this month's challenge dish. 3 days! i guess i could've done it all at the same time: making the broth from scratch, the french bread rise and rest time, and carmelizing the onions. that kind of multitasking is smart. it's working smart, not hard. however, i did none of that. nuria started the stock process early on a friday night and i babysat it till about 2am. when she came home from the bars that night i still wasn't done yet! skip saturday for some reason so sunday was hopefully going to be the day i could serve the soup. nope, i realized late that it takes 3 hours to caramelize the onions. yay. fine, monday night then. only, we started the french bread process late sunday evening thinking we could bake it monday when we got home from work. no. the rise and rest process said we could bake it on TUESDAY. awesome. moral of the story: buy the damn dish already made.

i will say that the soup had many layers to it : sweetness of the onions, richness of the stock, and overall presentation of it all. so fine, it's a labor intensive dish. my last gripe? i forgot my camera that housed pix of this dish at a friend's place and so i had to do a leftover pic that turned out eh. moral of the story: there is none. i've already kicked myself in the ass enough for leaving my camera.

Picnik collage

all bitchiness aside, i enjoyed the process of making the stock. even tho canned stock is cheap and less time consuming, there is just something about making your own stock to store in the freezer. currently, i have chicken, beef AND fish stock in my freezer, all tidied up in small containers to be used up for soups and stews.

till next month, stay warm and loosen up those belts, the holidays are a-coming,
Angry Asian and Nuria

french onion soup

for more French Onion Soup, hit the blogroll.

Thanks to Sara of I'm A Food Blog for hosting this month.