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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Shaker Lemon Pie

when i first signed up for a cooking class in the winter, i had grand visions of learning how to wield a chef's knife properly, of being able to julienne veggies beautifully in a blink of an eye, and most of all, of walking out of this 6 week course with the ability to write my own cookbook. first off, my knife skills are fine, i haven't chopped off a finger yet. 2nd, julienning is overrated. and last, i don't even want to write a cookbook! besides, it takes more than a mini cooking class at a community college to bring forth such a culinary ninja. giada di laurentiis had to start somewhere (it was in paris at le cordon bleu, fyi). basically, i had to set my expectations. the course i signed up for is American Cuisine, just a culinary look into regional american cooking. i realize now that i could've just looked up random recipes from different regions of the country and i'd be set but there is something to be said about being in an actual kitchen classroom, with a professional who knows what they're talking about. yes, there are dishes that i've already played with but there are also dishes that i'd never know about had i not joined. granted, i've only had 3 classes under my belt and this post is about my 2nd class but i can say with conviction that i'm very pleased with this cooking course. i love that the instructor walks us thru the recipe, explaining the ingredients, and also providing the regional history behind the dishes. then she lets us loose to get into groups to prepare the dishes, walking around to provide tips and encouragement. at the end of the night, we all sit around, sampling what we've made.

speaking of the 2nd class, we went to Ohio. i think the instructor thought about going to Chicago but really, how often would one want to hit Ohio? so she chose Cincinati Chili, which i've already tackled. she also decided on the Shaker Lemon Pie. Apparently, Ohio Shakers used to travel by boat to Louisiana to buy lemons. and being notorious for not wasting anything, they used the entire lemon, even the bitter pith. in class, we used meyer lemons, which are sweeter. the key to this pie is slicing the lemons paper thin. for my part, i was excited about using meyer lemons but i was more excited about the handmade pie crust. i hate pie crust with a passion, it just does not work for me. however, the instructor demonstrated how to make it flaky, walking us thru the process. she made the bottom pie crust and let me do the top crust. i need to invest in a pastry blender. i think this kitchen toy will be my next splurge. :) (Fyi, the pie is a 2 day process, plan accordingly)

Shaker Lemon Pie

Shaker Lemon Pie

2 Meyer lemons, washed
2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 eggs
4 T butter, melted
3 T flour
1 egg white
Course cut sugar
Double crust (recipe to follow)

Finely grate the lemons and place zest in a non-reactive bowl (plastic or glass). Using the slicing blade in the food processor, slice the lemons paper thin. Discard the seeds and trim excess peel.

Add the slices and juice to the zest. Toss with sugar and salt. Cover and set aside for 24 hours at room temperature.

Mix with the eggs, melted butter and flour. Pour into prepared pied shell. Roll out the top crust and place over the pie. Fold the overhang under the bottom crust and crimp edges.

Beat the egg white until frothy and brush over the top. Sprinkle with the course cut sugar. Cut several slits with a knife.

Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes. Shield with foil if browning too quickly. Reduce heat to 350 and bake for another 20 minutes.

Note: you can add 1 tbl. cornstarch to mixture to prevent eggs from curdling under the high heat.

Classic Pie Crust
9" Pie Pan, Single Crust

1 1/3 cup flour
pinch of salt
6 tbl cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 tbl cold shortening
3 1/2 tbl ice water (or more as needed)

Mix flour and salt. Add the butter and shortening, using a pastry blender
Mix well until it resembles course meal. Add the water and work into a ball. Only add the additional water if you cannot form a ball. Flatten the ball into a disc. Wrap in wax paper and freeze for about 15 - 20 minutes. Flour your work surface and rolling pin. Gently rest the rolling pin over the pie pan and allow crust to fall into the pan. Smooth the corners and trim excess crust over the edges.

Note: it was warm in the kitchen the night we made the crust, it's best to have the room be cold when making this.

verdict:
i was not a fan of the pie. the crust, yes but not so much the lemony interior. it's a combination of marmalade and lemon curd, both of which i like separately but not so much together. however, i'm pleased to know how to make pie crust properly and i would be interested in playing with meyer lemons again.

Today's Song: Stone Temple Pilots, Sour Girl


Monday, April 27, 2009

April Daring Baker's: Homemade Cheesecake

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

Dear Fellow Daring Bakers,
i am sick with a vicious head cold so i don't have much to say. i can say that i loved this month's challenge. i've made homemade ricotta cheesecake before which turned out well, albeit there was a few cracks on the surface. this time around, there was a tiny crack. it did not bother me. i added kahlua to the batter and topped the cheesecake with a strong black coffee jello glaze. normally, i would have a slice and take the rest to work for my colleagues to consume but my new roommate is in love with it. :)

till next month, keep those ovens HOT,
Angry Asian

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Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:

crust:
2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

cheesecake:
3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.

3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

Pan note: The creator of this recipe used to use a springform pan, but no matter how well she wrapped the thing in tin foil, water would always seep in and make the crust soggy. Now she uses one of those 1-use foil "casserole" shaped pans from the grocery store. They're 8 or 9 inches wide and really deep, and best of all, water-tight. When it comes time to serve, just cut the foil away.

Prep notes: While the actual making of this cheesecake is a minimal time commitment, it does need to bake for almost an hour, cool in the oven for an hour, and chill overnight before it is served. Please plan accordingly!

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Stuffed Bitter Gourd Soup

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, "Is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter – bitter", he answered,
"But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart." ~Stephen Crane



growing up with my grandparents was a pretty happy time for me. i say that because it wasn't until after i no longer lived with them did i realize that it was a happy time. my bà nội and ông nội were doting, they really took care of me. however, i did not call them by their proper paternal title and to this day, i still don't. i actually refuse to. the closest cousins to me were on the paternal side so they referred to my grandparents as bà ngoại and ông ngoại, so i did too. ass backwards and confusing as hell to outsiders but it worked for me, it was familiar and all i knew. kinda like a warm, well used baby blanket, one that you've had for years and years and even if you no longer slept with it, actually letting it go was not an option.

and the subsequent years after moving out were spent holding onto them. no matter what country we lived in, every summer i demanded to go back home to them. nevermind we could've gone on safaris in africa, trekked in europe or visited some beaches in southeast asia, for all i cared, everyone else in the immediate pham-ily could go, *i* was going home to my bà ngoại and ông ngoại. and every end of summer, when i had to leave, i bawled my eyes out.

now that i live on my own, on the other side of the country from them, (at least we're still on the same continent), i find amusement calling them randomly for bà ngoại's cooking expertise and ông ngoại's jokes. my grandmother thinks i am incapable of preparing a meal while my grandfather quizzes me on numbers for him to choose for the lottery. my most recent grandmother concoction is actually a very common vietnamese soup. it was also very common for me to grimmace if it showed up at the dinner table. it's an acquired taste. the bitter gourd is supposedly really good for you, cooling for your system but havoc for the tongue. without fail, i had to finish a bowl of the stuff. i used to sit at the table, after everyone had already finished, and take minute sips of the bitter broth; usually having gone stone cold already. ick. lately, i've been feeling nostalgic for the soup; maybe in anticipation for the phamily reunion in LA this summer or just maybe, because the familiarity of the dish brings me back to my happy place.

bittergourd soup



Stuffed Bitter Gourd Soup
i completely winged it

1lb ground pork
1 medium onion, diced
1 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 tsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp pepper
a few bitter gourds, cut in half and pitted
veggie stock

for the stuffed part, i basically did the shumai recipe, except i was a bit generous with the oyster sauce, in the hopes of masking the bitterness. again, like my other bitter gourd scrambled eggs, i blanched the halves in salted water for a few minutes, but keeping a careful eye that they didn't get too soft. after a few minutes, i took them out and immediately put them in ice cold water to halt the cooking process.

when cool, stuff the gourds with the meat mixture. any leftover meat, roll into meatballs and you have Grandma's Shumai sans wrapper. meanwhile, heat up the veggie broth to a gentle simmer and add the gourds in. cook till done.

i had this simple meal with a bowl of rice. and just so you know, despite the blanching, the broth was still slightly bitter, as was the gourd. but that's ok. it was bitter and i liked it.

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today's song: David Archuleta, Touch My Hand

{just a note, he is so refreshingly precious...}


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sour Cream Cranberry Bars

i don't even like cranberries. it has a sourness to it, and it reminds me of a poor version of cherries. i know it has properties that are good for you, specifically for females, ifyouwknowwhatimeanandithinkyouknowwhatimean. so imagine my disappointment when i showed up for my first cooking class at the local community college and saw that one of the items we were going to cook prominently featured cranberries as its main ingredient.

don't get me wrong, i've had it before... it's rich tartness in juice, diluted with apple juice. or when i made cranberry sauce for thanksgiving dinner because my roommate at the time requested it, actually, begged me for it because it reminded her of home in TX and i didn't have the heart to tell her that cranberries make me want to vomit. however, when i actually tried it with my turkey and homemade rolls, it was actually ... good.

so, i vowed to keep an open mind, since afterall, this was my first cooking class. i don't count home ec in 7th grade. back in February, one of the broads posted on the boards about joining a few cooking classes and i immediately jumped at the opportunity to not only hang out with some friends but also to learn something new. i really wanted to try the West African Cuisine class but the timing interferred with one of my sports. the Regional American Cooking class seemed like a good option and that's what i went with. after a very bumpy start (the first class was actually before my PR trip, but the instructor no-showed, cancelling at the last minute and the adminstration office forgot to let the class know...), the new instructor was lovely, lively and the menu she set out for the New England courses practical and very accessible:
  • Garlic Cheddar Biscuits
  • New England Fish Chowder
  • Sour Cream Cranberry Bars

    cranberry bars

i'm only going to post the recipe for the bars, if anyone wants the biscuit or chowder recipes, let me know

Sour Cream Cranberry Bars
1 cup softened butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups quick cooking oats
1 1/2 cups plus 2Tbl flour, divided
1 Tbl grated lemon peel
2 cups dried cranberries
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beatened
1 tsp vanilla

In large mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Combine oats and 1 1/2 cup flour: add to creamed mixture until blended. Set aside 1 1/2 cup for topping. Pressing remaining crumb mixture into ungreased 12X9 baking pan. Bake 350 for 10 to 12 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine cranberries, sour cream, sugar, egg, lemon peel, vanilla and remaining flour. Spread over crust. Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture. Bake 20-25 minutes, cool on rack. Freezes well. Refridgerate leftovers.

Verdict:
it is effing good. i've been nibbling on it all week and i'm considering making up another batch. the instructor says it's more a of a dessert but i see it as a great breakfast bar. probably because of the oats. i cannot believe i'm endorsing cranberries but i totally am. i imagine other dried fruits (or maybe even fresh) could be substituted: blueberries, apples, or raisins.

now i'm wondering what the next class will bring.

biscuits
fish chowder

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Red Wine Ginger Ale Sangria

i'm coming out of the closet today. i have guarded this "secret" from this blog (not so much other aspects of my life) for awhile now.

say it. {say.it.out.loud.}

i am a twilight fanatic aka twi-hard. now that i have that confession out of the way, your turn. what's your obsession? like edward says: just say it out loud.

i've read the books twice and i convinced jason to watch the movie with me in the theater. since, i've watched the movie quite a few times (don't judge!), joined legions of fans in analyzing the dynamics of the edward cullen, jacob black and bella swan triangle, as well as dabbling in the edward cullen vs. jake ryan vs. jordan catalano debate. and that's just scratching the surface...

not only that, i've recruited the bff. for MONTHS i would text her or leave cryptic twilight quotes on her facebook page. last week, she finally broke down and watched the dvd. afterwards, we spent a hilarious hour breaking.it.down. she swooned. she squee'd. (i am now officially her own brand of heroin. don't be jealous! ) i just sent her the first book to enjoy. building a twi-army is hard work. converting kelcy was not my own task. this past weekend, buu and i hosted a twi-slumber party. buu likes vampires (she's one those) and really, a party? i did not have to twist her arm to have it at her place.

kim brought the red wine sangria. alcohol was not consumed in the series but we all know what a lush Rpattz is. and we weren't very well going to serve blood...



sangria



(click for more pix and sangria recipe)


Kim's Red Wine Ginger Ale Sangria
modified from Pinoy Cravings

1 lime
1 orange
1 1/2 cups white rum
1/2 cup white sugar
1 bottle dry red wine
1 1/2 cup orange juice

Have the fruit, rum, wine, and orange juice well chilled. Slice the lime and orange into thin rounds and place in a large glass pitcher. Pour in the rum and sugar.

Chill in refrigerator for 2 hours to develop the flavors.

When ready to serve, crush the fruit lightly with a wooden spoon and stir in the wine and orange juice. Adjust sweetness to taste.

To serve, add ginger ale and stir gently with ice cubes and slowly pour the sangria over the ice, allowing fruit slices to fall into the glasses.

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initially, i wanted to make mushroom ravioli, but really, the thought of making the pasta dough just did not appeal to me. lucky for me, it was gossiped last week that rpattz loves him some spaghetti and meatballs. buu made her chunky monkey spaghetti sauce and we added meatballs.



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we had a side of salad:



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and ended the meal with red velvet cupcakes that one of the girls thoughtfully made, but i stupidly forgot to take pix of.

i don't think i converted anyone to join this side, however, it was a fun filled evening of giggling and quite a lot of oohing and aaahing.

today's soundtrack: Robert Pattinson, Let Me Sign


Monday, April 13, 2009

.: Toro Salao in Old San Juan :.

for our 2nd day in PR, jason and i walked the 3 miles to old san juan. it would've cost us $20 to take a cab! but the walk there made it worth it. and it worked up an appetite.

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there are many little restaurants in old san juan. we wanted something outdoor. i don't know if we were looking for a hole in the wall or something fancy, we just walked. we came upon Toro Salao. i liked it because it had a very big outdoor seating area and it was close to the water. jason and i had decided to basically walk around, and when a restaurant struck our fancy, we would either stop for a drink or a plate. we ordered their lamb chops with couscous. jason washed his down with a corona and i tried the sangria.

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the lamb was grilled to perfection, medium rare, tender and juicy. jason loved it. i preferred the couscous, it was almost like risotto.

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it was a lovely place to stop. our waiter didn't speak english but i noticed a few american servers. the plate was $24 but i'd say it was well worth it.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Puerto Rican Inspired Empanadas

recently i came out of the closet about my newfound love of latin american food. maybe my previous experience wasn't that great but as of a few months ago, i've hit a few really good mexican joints. i mean, i really did say out loud that i disliked the whole melted cheese over meat and topped with salsa thing and yet, i've had my fair share of tacos, carne asadas, burritos in the last six months. further, my trip to Puerto Rico has made me realize that rice and beans is an excellent combination. so inspired, in the last two weeks, i've made two entrees that i normally would avoid. first for my monthly food challenge: asianized enchiladas, a dish that not only fed me for a week but made me see the light. next, the empanada.

when we first arrive to PR, jason and i had a cocktail at the hotel and shared an empanada. it was so good! the meat inside was shredded chicken, spicy and the outter shell flaky. i knew that i wanted to make something like it at home. my search for the ultimate recipe came up with a fried one but the blogger gave me the go ahead to bake them instead. i am always apprehensive about pie crust recipes, only because i don't have a food processor and they seem to require the crumbly type of dough thing but i figured i was able to make hand held apple pie and apple blossom tart, i could knock this one out. the crust came out more bready than flaky like a pie but it was still very good. i used ground chicken (because it's what i had!). excellent snack. what i would change: my filling was a bit dry, i may have let it cook a bit longer than i should've. as a result, i felt like it needed perhaps a sauce to top it or dip in.

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Puerto Rican Inspired Empanadas
recipe courtesy of the Noshery

Filling:
1 lb drained ground chicken
2 potatoes, diced
1 onion, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup recaito
1 envelope of Sazon sin achiote
10 pimiento stuffed olives, cut in half
olive oil
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup water
Heat skillet at med-high, drizzle with olive oil. Saute onions, garlic and recaito until onions are translucent.

Drizzle chicken with olive oil and season with Adobo. Add chicken, potatoes, bay leaves, Sazon and water to skillet, stir and cover. Simmer on a low heat for about 45 mins, or until meat is tender.

Dough:
3 1/2 cups of flour
2 1/2 tsp of salt
2 tsp of baking powder
3 1/2 Tbs of vegetable oil, cold (***I just used butter, extra cold)
1 egg, slightly beaten
3/4 cup of water
Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.

Cut in butter into the flour mixture. (cut in: When a fat such as butter or oil is mixed with a dry ingredient like flour until they form into small particles.) (i watched an episode of Ask Aida and she did it with her fingers. so i did too)

Place mixture in large bowl, add the egg and mix using a fork.

Add the water a little at a time, mixing with a fork. When done mixing the dough brittle, or in pieces.

Dust a workspace with flour, collect all of your dough. Knead the dough using your palm, as if you were washing clothes on an old washboard. Knead until the dough is soft and smooth. Form into a ball, cover with a cloth and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Roll dough out into a rope about 15 inches long. Once rolled out cut off disks about 3/4 of an inch think. Dust your rolling pin and workspace and roll out into a thin paper circle.

Assemble:

Preheat oven at 350degrees. Take your disk of rolled out dough, and fill with 1 spoonful of filling.

Wet the edges of the dough with water or oil (**I used egg wash). Fold over to make a half moon, Trim the edges if you need to make them even. Pinch the dough together using your fingers, then go over it, pressing it with the teeth of a fork. You now have a pastelillo.

Place on baking tray, brush with egg wash. i baked them for about 25 minutes.

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Today's Soundtrack: the entire Kings of Leon album, Only By the Night

i finally broke down and bought the album and it's been on continuous repeat since. i am particularly a fan of I Want You, Be Somebody and Cold Desert.



Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Coconut Almond Cookies

what's weird about these cookies is that i don't like the two main ingredients: almonds and shredded coconut. at least not separately but together, they make a pretty good combo. why would i have these ingredients in my cupboard then? i inherited it. my roommate moved out. i didn't want to throw them out and for this round of the Baking Gals i went on a search for a cookie recipe that i would be comfortable giving a soldier and his friends.

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my soldier this round is a David Card, front line medic who is on his second tour of duty overseas. KelseyKakes was our fearless hostess.

Coconut Almond Cookies
recipe courtesy of Laurie Thompson

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup flaked coconut
optional: chopped almonds. (i toasted them for about 5 minutes in the oven.)

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DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg, water and almond extract. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir into the creamed mixture. Stir in coconut. Roll the dough into walnut sized balls. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto the cookie sheet and flatten with a floured fork. ** i added the chopped almonds on top for some added ooomph.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly browned on the bottom. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

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today's song: Nico Stai, Maybe Maybe

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Restaurante Escambrón

when jason and i arrived in Puerto Rico, we noticed right away that it wasn't sweteringly hot. it was windy. very windy. but the sun was out and not a cloud in the sky. we had been apprehensive about the weather, the meteorologists had forcasted storms and showers. that first night for dinner, we took a stroll by the water and happened upon Restaurante Escambrón. it was recommended by the hotel we were staying at so we went for it.

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the first thing we ordered were pina coladas, that came out strong but completely refreshing:

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i ordered a crumbled sausage wrapped in chicken boob topped with a tomato and pepper sauce, with a side of rice and sauteed veggies. the chicken was a little dry but the sausage was delish. my fave was a the veggies tho, they were doused in a butter garlic sauce.

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jason went with a chicken and tomato concoction, topped with a white cheese, also sided with veggies and rice. he compared it to a chicken parmesan.

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we were too full for dessert. i can't recall the exact price, it was probably around $15-20/plate. for the most part, most things in PR is expensive.

but the view? it was well worth it:

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Grandma's Bitter Gourd Scrambled Eggs

there are times when i know i should do something because it's the right thing to do. like, when i'm in the sock aisle at Target. i won't buy the entire spring collection of knee highs, in fact, i walk away and spend my hard earned money on the things i need: laundry detergent, foil, sandwich bags. or like, when i'm not in the mood to cook dinner so instead, after work, i head over to my fave vietnamese restaurant for an order of their bo luc lak. rather than ordering take out tho, i head across the street to the asian market and go proper grocery shopping. because, really, the cost of that dish (along with a side order of gỏi cuốn and coconut juice) equals a week's worth of fresh veggies.

sigh. and that's what happened last week. i knew i needed to hit the store for much needed produce and make something properly to offset all the heavy food i had consumed in PR. fiiiiiiine. the asian market is small, it only just opened, their selection limited compared to the H mart down the street. however, it had enough. i picked up some japanese eggplant, onions, tofu and then i saw it. a few smallish bitter melons or bitter gourds. it surprised me that i had a craving for it. as a child, i hated the thing, no matter how it was prepared, usually stuffed with minced meat in a stock. the stock would take on the bitterness of the fruit and sometimes i would gag just looking at if we were having it with our dinner. however, my grandmother used to chop them up small and stir fry it with eggs. it wasn't too bad actually, not as a bitter and if i ate it with enough white rice, the bitterness wouldn't come anywhere near my tongue. here is my version of grandma's bitter gourd scrambled eggs. it's actually very similiar to how i made my green beans.

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Grandma's Bitter Gourd Scrambled Eggs

1 bitter melon, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
1 glove of garlic
dash of oyster sauce
tsp of olive/veggie oil, whatever you have
3 eggs

i cut the bitter gourd lengthwise, scooping out the pit and then sliced them. i blanched them in some salted water to temper the bitterness. meanwhile, chopped up some onoins and garlic, sauteeing them in some olive oil. when the gourd has softened some bit still retained its light green color, drained them of excess water and added them to the pan, mixing it in with the onions and garlic. next, to also ensure the bitterness wasn't too bad, i added a dash of oyster sauce. as it's hanging out, in a seperate bowl, mix break the eggs and whisk, add to hot pan and cook thru. serve with white rice.

verdict: awesome. it reminded me of home. not too bitter and very comforting.

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Friday, April 3, 2009

.: Birthday Dinner @ Roy's :.

seriously, i have been remiss with posting on this blog. and it's not like i haven't been places!

so without further ado:
jason's birthday was in late February. i took him to a great seafood and steak restaurant called Roy's. it's huge. i'd been there before for a happy hour treat with some girlfriends previously. the menu had a healthy balance of seafood and steak, along with sushie and a great variety of drinks. i knew jason would enjoy it.



the moment we walked in we were greeted by the hostess and the waiter. i had made reservations ahead (i'm the planner in the relationship), letting them know we were celebrating his birthday. our table was decked out with confetti and a card. so thoughtful! it's personal touches like that that make me want to pimp a place out. we ordered drinks. i had their sangria, which is topped with sprite for added fizz. it's my preferred way to have sangria now. jason had his standard guinness. we ordered a sampler appetizer:



it had a good selection of their apps: sushie rolls, ribs, wonton, shrimp and ahi tuna. i was partial to their wonton and jason loved their tuna.

there are two main things that i look for in a menu: scallop and lamb options. because Roy's is a seafood joint, i went with their scallops and shrimp combo, which was excellent, both grilled with a lemon butter sauce, sided with rice and veggies.



jason went for the surf and turf, steak and shrimp. he devoured his plate. well, not the sour cream polenta, i ate that for him.



i had made my guinness cake for him, as a treat at home but the wait staff at Roy's so sweetly made him a small plate of chocolate cake.


overall the experience was great, the staff was attentive without being intrusive. the place nicely full for a week night and pricewise, a bit more than what we normally go for but for special occasions like this and for the great ambiance, it was well worth it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

homemade vegetable stock

i've been home a full two days. i look in the mirror and i'm a shade darker than i was a week ago. what i've learned from my five days in Puerto Rico:

1. rice and beans: excellent combo
2. piña coladas are really good early in the day, middle of the day and late in the day
3. latin american food is actually friggin good
4. jason can actually sleep without a fan on
5. it's windy as hell by the water
6. purging one's refrigerator prior to a trip will result in not much to eat when one returns

prior to leaving for PR last week, i threw all the veggies i had into a pot, added water and made stock. i wasn't exactly inspired but i didn't want to let them go to waste. i remember that that sunday was a gorgeous day: sunny and breezy, my windows open and i could hear kids playing ball in the street. i had the laundry machine working, cleaning like mad with yiruma on blast. i had thrown thyme in the pot, my favorite herb, and the smell wafting from the kitchen was so homey and earthy. despite being inside, it was a great day.

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unfortunately, i seem to have picked up an annoying habit of not making note of exact measurements and even exact ingredients. just know that you can basically throw ANY random veggies that would hold well into a pot of water, add some herbs and salt. simmer for an hour. strain and you have veggie stock.

what i had:
carrots, washed but not peeled, rough chopped
celery, rough chopped
onion, rough chopped
some leftover thyme
a bay leaf

***i actually sauteed the onions in olive oil and butter for a minute before adding the water and the rest of the veggies. i may have added garlic but i'm not sure.

when the stock cooled, i put in freezer proof containers and threw them in the freezer.


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today's song: Leigh Nash, Nervous in the Light of Dawn

ps. i will post something about my PR trip, over at my kitchen doorknob blog and .: i wonder as i wander :. blog. it'll happen, sooner or later.

pps. i still owe an ethiopian post. it'll happen. eventually. promise.

ppps. i've been lax lately about posting. i'm just inundated right now with ... vball. soccer. kickball. a cooking class. tumblr. twitter. {whispers} twilight. i blame trish.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Recipes to Rival: Steak Diane

Dear Fellow Recipes to Rival,
again, this post will be brief. i am back from my long weekend in PR and i am inundated with fatigue and random stuff. keeping it real short:

this month's challenge is hosted by temperence of high on the hog and shawnee of delishes delishes. i did not do the flambe thing, only because i had the sauce going, the steak going and taking pix and really, it seemed like a lot of work and the fear of burning down my home was ever present. i served my steak over creamy polenta.

for more gorgeousness, head over to the blogroll.

till next month,
Angry Asian

steak diane