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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Asparagus Soup ~ On Disappointment

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disappointment is a funny emotion. as a kid i always said that i'd prefer the disappointed pep talk over an ass whopping. then as i got older & entirely too old for said ass whopping, peter employed the icy silent treatment, the type of silence that was laced with crushing disappointment; that left me slightly relieved that i was spared the lecture but also exasperated as i speculated on how long this particular treatment was going to last. i think back on those times now and i know now that i was affected by it, no one likes being ignored, least of all me and in retrospect, it was effective because you bet your ass i didn't make the same mistake twice (well except for the period in time where skipping class was a daily thing...)

so this asparagus soup made an appearance over the weekend, when the weather finally started acting like autumn, when it was slightly dreary and the breeze that came thru the living room had a cooling edge to it. i wanted a vibrant color, green to counteract the grey of the evening, but what i ended up with was more of a fatigued green, drab and not too appetizing. i allowed the apples and onions to brown too much while i chopped up the asparaugs stalks so it darkened the soup. i'll work faster next time, promise. but despite the disappointing color, it still tasted lovely, light and with the added tang of the creamy goat cheese, i'd say it still came out successfully. nuria who is not a fan of asparagus liked it enough to have for lunch the next day.

Asparagus Soup

1/2 onion, diced
a bundle of asparagus, chopped, tips included
1 apple, diced (i left the skin on, FIBER people!)
veggie stock (or chicken or beef stock)
basil, a few stems worth
pinch of salt
goat cheese for topping

in a bit of olive oil, cook up the onion and apple until translucent (or until it's practically caramelized like i did...). season with a pinch of salt. add in the asparagus and stock, bring up to a gentle simmer, by which time the asparagus is cooked thru. add in the basil leaves and puree until smooth (or whatever consistency you want it to be). serve with a blob of goat cheese on top.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Joy Luck Club Meeting

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Stuffed Portobellos

it was a busy weekend, (when isn't it?!) where i met lovely local bloggers (thx sweet mary and wendi...), watched a bit of true blood (dear nancy, i swear, i will watch the 1st season. xoxo, me), had a luscious 'shroom experience, made a glorious spaghetti bolognese, had a joy luck club meeting, an impromtu picture taking lesson and lots and lots and lots of laughter (when do i not laugh my ass off when i'm among friends?)

currently reading: Mark Reads Harry Potter

best question posed: seriously, where the f*** is my wand?!
best line: anything along the lines of ...shit gets real...
best way to show sadness: Excuse me while I SOB FOR HOURS...

why is this man not my friend? we're like kindred HP spirits, he & i.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Rosemary Peach Frozen Yogurt ~ Holding On or Letting Go

Rosemary Peach Frozen Yogurt

what i find so fascinating as i get older is my ability to let things go now. all the things that i wanted when i was in my, ahem, twenties: marriage, career, annual overseas trips, retired by 45 blah blah blah. all that? it just added shit to my life. in retrospect, my twenties were pretty miserable -- stressful, always comparing myself to everyone else's best, and where did it get me? no flipping where. yes, i want to be successful at my job; sure, i'd like to travel internationally again; and surprisingly, yes, i would like to be in a committed & loving relationship again eventually. but i am not barreling head first into these goals, hell-bent on achieving them just for the sake of attaining them, because i know i wouldn't enjoy the journey, why in the world i would be happy with the end destination?

i'm letting it go. not because i don't want to go for them. not because i'm lazy. not because i don't think i can accomplish them. but because i am comfortably ensconced in my forever thirties and Loving It. listen. i always say, don't sweat the petty stuff, pet the sweaty stuff.

so the end of summer has arrived, autumn fast approaching. (actually, not really, it hit 91F this week!) typically, i mourn the loss of the warm weather & i go into hibernation. this year, i vow to not hold on so hard to September, and embrace the cooler temps... and remember to put on a damn jacket.

this will more than likely be the last of my ice cream/frozen treats until next summer. don't cry, i'm holding onto the ice cream maker like it's my J.O.B. but i'm letting go of the resentment.

Rosemary Peach Frozen Yogurt

dude. no exact measurements.

half container of plain yogurt
rosemary leaves, chopped up, i'd say they were about 2 TBLs worth
2 ripe peaches, chopped up. i kept the skins on cus i was LAZY about peeling
splash of milk to thin out the mixture
sprinkle of organic sugar

mix all in a bowl and leave overnight in fridge. them make in ice cream maker, according to maker's manual.

personally, i loved the flavors whereas nuria did not enjoy it. the rosemary provided too savory of a taste for her. i liked the tang of the yogurt.

PS. if you'll notice on the right side, i finally created a Facebook Fan Page. be a doll & become a fan, won'tcha? i'll probably be hosting a giveaway for just my FB fans soon...

have a loverly weekend.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Orange Ginger Cupcakes with Ginger Mascarpone Icing

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Nuria had a friend visiting from Spain recently and during his week long stay, he had a birthday. naturally, she didn't tell me until the morning of, when they were on their way back from NYC. i hauled ass home from work that day and busted out these beauties. and because he liked the haiku so much, i gifted him my words on canvas painting.

Orange Ginger Cupcakes with Mascarpone Icing

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup finely chopped candied oranges and ginger
1 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temp
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven 350F

Prepare a muffin pan with paper liners.

In a bowl, mix together flour, ginger, baking powder and salt. Stir in candied ginger.

In mixing bowl, beat sugar and butter until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well. Alternately beat in flour mixture and milk, beating until smooth.

Scoop batter into prepared pan. Bake for 24 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack. Top cooled cupcakes with frosting.

Ginger Mascarpone Icing

1/2 container Mascarpone cheese softened
powdered sugar
1 TBL powdered ginger

yeah. i didn't measure... i just mixed until all combined and was consistency of icing.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Com Ga ~ Vietnamese Chicken & Rice

Com ga

today i want to talk about everyday childhood food. the foods that showed up at the dinner table on a regular Tuesday night, simple and maybe even plain, overlooked grub that you consumed on the quick so you could get back to your homework or to watch some tv before it was your bedtime; dishes that when eaten now brings back a strong wave of nostalgia. com ga is that dish for me. i've only seen two restaurants serve this home-y dish, & tho they were certainly good, it was almost a waste to order at an establishment because the whole point of going out to dinner is to get something you normally don't eat at home, right?

right. and wrong. i don't live at home anymore. i don't even consider it home anymore (um. did i ever?) and this dish, tho it is simple and rather bland looking, it's anything but. you gotta boil the chicken. the entire chicken. (don't judge me, i was nervous.) you gotta make the rice a smidge differently than normal. and the sauce. it's really all about the sauce. i texted Aunt Mymy for the recipe and in normal asian fashion, no exact measurements, just a list of ingredients & the mantra: just taste it. so, this home-y meal made an appearance recently, i had such a strong hankering for it. i made two different sauces for it, cus tho i was trying to go for the pedestrian vibe of this everday meal, i like having choices & it really came down to my everyday meals now.

for the chicken and sauce #1 (ginger & scallion in oil), i used chuck's Chinese White Cut Chicken method & recipe, tho cut back on the salt to 1 tsp.

for sauce #2 (ginger & lime nuoc mam), i used Aunt Mymy's "recipe" but Wandering Chopsticks' Ginger Fish Sauce recipe is a good reference. (btw, she steams her chicken)

for the rice: (uh, no exact measurements uh-gain. sorry.)

rice (probably about a cup or so)
an inch knob of ginger, chopped
1 glove garlic, minced
chicken stock from the boiled chicken
veggie oil

in a wok or large enough frying pan, heat up the oil. sautee the garlic and ginger, stirring often to prevent burning. def don't burn the stuff, or it'll be bitter & you gotta start over, no joke. when they're sufficiently golden and fragrant smelling, add in the rice, ensuring the oil coats every grain and the garlic/ginger mixture is thoroughly mixed thru. use your judgement, don't burn the rice but fry it up until golden. transfer to rice cooker and add chicken stock according to how you usually make white rice in a cooker.

i realize that's a rather lazy (and inauthentic) approach to making rice but hey, like i said, it's my everyday food now.

currently jamming to The Avett Brothers

9/21/2010 - {edit}
Anh of A Food Lover's Journey kindly asked me to participate in a monthly food event called Delicious Vietnam and submit this post for it. she, along with Ravenous Couple, came up with this event last spring to highlight vietnamese cuisine. Javaholic is this month's host.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Apple Thyme Galette

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it's apple season. prepare thyself.

Apple Thyme Galette

Flaky Cream Cheese Pie Crust

8 TBL cold butter
6.5 oz AP flour (i used organic spelt flour)
1/4 tsp salt
3 oz cream cheese, cold
1.5 TBL ice cold water
1.5 tsp cider vinegar

Cut butter into small cubes, freeze until frozen solid. Place flour and salt in reclosable bag and freeze for 30 minutes (i skipped this step). Place flour in food processor with metal blade and process a few seconds to combine. Cut cream cheese into pieces and add to the flour. process for about 20 seconds, or until resembles coarse meal. add the frozen butter and pulse until none of the butter is larger than the size of peas. Add water and vinegar. pulse until most most of the butter is reduced to size of small peas. it will not hold together, spoon into bag. holding both ends of bag opening with fingers, knead mixture until mixture feels slightly stretchy when pulled.

wrap dough with plastic wrap, flatten into a disc and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes, preferably overnight. can be stored for up to 2 days in fridge or in freezer for up to 3 months.

Filling

2 apples, cored and diced. i kept the peel on, for the fiber, you know.
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 TBL raw sugar
2 TBL unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
cinnamon

preheat oven 400F.

roll out dough 1/8" thick and as large as you want, about 16". sprinkle apples with lemon juice to keep from browning. arrange apple slices in a pretty manner. i almost just threw it all in. but overlap it, or whatever. fold the overhanging border of dough over the outer edge of the apples, pleat at intervals. sprinkle apples with sugar and a bit of cinnamon. dot the apples with the pieces of butter and bake for 40 minutes or until apples are tender and the dough is crisp.

cool on rack. can be stored at room temp up to 2 days.

it's shaping to be a busy weekend. have a loverly one.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Double Strawberry Pie

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it's the end of summer, you can tell by the slight bite of cool in the air in the mornings and evenings now. you can tell by how dark it gets sooner {which, btw, bums me out more than the chill}. you can tell by how i automatically reach for my knee high socks instead of my usual flops. and you can most definitely tell by the produce section at the market: oh, hello apples, i've missed you. why yes, i love you butternut squash, even if nuria doesn't. i'm thinking about baked goods and slow cooked stews, tucking into my couch with my fleece blanket and picking up my crochet hook again.

so with this end of summer, nuria and i made a double strawberry pie... using end of the season strawberries, fruits that she and i hawked for a good while, making sure they weren't too overly ripe yet. we wanted berries that still held onto summer with both hands, plump and firm. but even with our combined efforts, i still had to run out the day of baking to find better berries and the pickings were slim. the end of summer is here and the strawberries are going with it. {tears}

but what a way to celebrate Summer's End. i used the overly ripe berries to make the jam layer, adding a bit of candied orange peel to cut thru the sweetness. the cream cheese and chocolate layer balanced out the fresh berries, and the crust. oh the crust. nuria slaved over the crust, and it came out flaky and so perfect. it's a shame strawberries are now out of season, but blackberries and figs are in... and well, this pie really does make the transition of seasons so much easier...

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Double Strawberry Pie

Pastry dough:
for 9", for 11" measurements in parenthesis

8 TBL cold, unsalted butter (9 TBL)
184 grams AP flour (267 grams)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking powder, optional. if not using, double salt
2.5 - 3.5 TBL ice cold water (3.5 - 4.5 TBL)
1.5 tsp cider vinegar

Cut butter into 3/4" cubes, freeze. place flour, salt, and optional baking powder in a reclosable bag and freeze for 30 minutes (i didn't do this.)

place the four mixture in food processor with the metal blade and process for a few seconds. add the butter to the flour and process for about 20 seconds or until the mixture resembles coarse meal, process until mixture looks like peas. add the lowest amount of water and the vinegar & pulse 6 times. pinch a small amount of the mixture together btwn fingers. if it does not hold together, add half the remaining water and pulse 3 times. repeat if necessary. the mixture will be in particles and will not hold together without being pinched. Refrigerate for an hour.

Filling

5 cups strawberries, rinsed, hulled and dried
1/2 cup water
2 TBL raw sugar
3 TBL cornstarch
a pinch of salt
1 tsp lemon juice
2 TBL candied orange peel

Cream cheese Layer (marscapone cheese would work too)

3 oz white chocolate
4 oz cream cheese
2 TBL sour cream

Remove dough from fridge. Roll out into pie pan (i used an 11" removable bottom pie pan). cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour or max of 24 hours.

Pre heat oven to 425F at least 20 minutes before baking. Line pastry shell with parchment and fill with rice or dried beans. bake for 20 minutes. Lift out the rice or beans with the parchment. With a fork, prick the bottom and sides and bake for 5-10 minutes more or until crust is pale gold.

Cool crust.

in a heavy saucepan, place 1 cup of strawberries and crush them lightly with fork. add water, sugar, cornstarch, salt, diced orange peel and lemon juice. Bring mixture to boil and simmer, stirring constantly. cool.

in a double boiler over hot water, melt the white chocolate, stirring constantly until smooth. cool. in a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until light, pour in the cooled white chocolate all at once and beat for a minute. add the sour cream and beat until blended.

Scrape the cream cheese mixture into the baked pie shell and top with the cooled strawberry mixture. arrange the remaining strawberries on top, point up.

Parenthood returned this week. as much as i lament over the end of summer, this show coming back on mollifies me.

Monday, September 13, 2010

First Ever Taste of Vietnam Restaurant Hopping

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we gathered
~ to remember a day in history
~ to commemorate an important day in Catalonia
~ to meet someone new {smirk}

we shared
~ eye rolls as Barcelona did not play up to standard
~ an octopus named Paul
~ a double strawberry pie

we pigged out
~ on appetizer sized portion Pho Bo (!!) and Bun Bo Hue

it was restaurant hopping, as we fought over who paid which round...

it was loverly. hope you had a good weekend too.

restaurants visited:
Saigon Cafe and... a few other places at the Eden Center that we don't know the names of, we just know the location ... (kinda, we did get lost looking for the nem nướng place).

currently, re-reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.



Friday, September 10, 2010

.:Four Sisters and Pho & Grill:.

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baby clams, roasted quail, grilled pork & vermicelli, and papaya salad with shrimp

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pho bo and nem nuong

sometimes when i leave the mean thug streets of the wire baltimore, i like to force join my cousins in good vietnamese grub. i mean, the shit.is.good. and when the tab arrives, it's CHEAP like your mom.

Merrifield Town Center
8190 Strawberry Lane, Suite 1
Falls Church, Virginia 22042
703.539.8566
Four Sisters on Urbanspoon

18310 Contour Road
Gaithersburg, MD 20877
301.740.7728

PSA - for my DC Readers georgetown is hosting Fashion's Night Out. my girl Buu from Annie Creamcheese will be there. visit her, visit the boutique, buy lots of stuff. i'm a size small and j'adore vintage concert tshirts. thx.



buu's appearances: 0:36, 1:27, 1:45, 2:00
bitch is fierce.

have a loverly weekend.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Tomato Sauce

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let me tell you what i did this weekend, ok? typically i post photographs of the weekend debaucle, sometimes capturing pure genius moments (hello, roll down the hill) and other times depicting serene moments by the water and watching the sun set but this weekend? my head was in the Game. specifically, the Hunger Games. i read the entire trilogy over the weekend, skipping out on social events early, staying up way beyond my bedtime. nuria is heavy in the middle of the series herself, she's going thru the stress of it all, i got a new friend to read it, and now? i'm kinda feeling empty without the books in my hand.

but why did i like it so much? as my friend AH said, it's part fight to the death gritty adventure, part foodie blog. the books really do talk about food, but not like how eat pray love or gourmet rhapsody (both i hated, btw) do, it's about the lack thereof. and that's all i'll say about the books (see, stephanie, no spoilers!) i loved the books, not as much as Harry Potter but definitely more than Twilight (gasp, my twi-card is gonna get revoked. bring.it.on.)

so this post isn't a book review, i am not affiliated with the author (tho, if she wants to send me an autographed box set and wants my opinion on who should be in the movie versions, i got opinions, everyone's entitled to them), it's about how i was obsessed with reading the entire series in one fell-swoop that a no brainer dish like this pork loin dish was necessary. it was fast, it was easy and still delish.

Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Tomato Sauce

2 cups of grape tomatoes
2 lb tenderloin
salt/pepper to taste
olive oil
half dozen chive blossom stalks, chopped
1/2 cup of stock
1/2 water (or white wine)
1 Tbl chopped rosemary
2 tsp dijon mustard
Angry Asian pork rub

place grape tomatoes in a rimmed baking sheet, season with salt/pepper and douse with a bit of olive oil. roast in 425F oven until they're shriveled. remember to shake the pan/mix the tomatoes occasionally. approx. 30 min.

meanwhile, rub pork loin with your fave pork rub (or just salt/pepper). heat up some olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet over med-high. add the pork and brown on one side for a few minutes. turn the pork over and transfer the pan to the oven. roast the pork until just pink, about 12-14 minutes. transfer to a cutting board but allow to rest before slicing.

place pan over medium heat, add the chopped chive blossoms and cook, until softened. add the water (or wine) and stock, stir in the rosemary and mustard, bring to simmer, allow to reduce until thickened. stir in grape tomatoes.

slice pork and serve with the tomato sauce.

now what should i read??

Monday, September 6, 2010

Strawberry & Coconut Milk Ice Cream

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one of the things that i've noticed about myself lately is that i've been careless. i am careless with my appearance, i rarely blow dry my hair (or even comb it!) and for a stretch of time, didn't bother with make up; not even for work and social outings. and my relationships? i fear that i've been careless in that aspect, too. i am not present when i am speaking with friends, my responses more like afterthoughts, than well-meaning and heartfelt; robotic and obligatory. i am curt and tho i've always been direct, lately, it's been a little too direct, a little too mean-tongued. this is awful of me. i shouldn't be so careless with other people's feelings, of their time or of their investment in me. i really should label these past hot months as the Summer of Carelessness -- where i abandoned decorum, appearances and essentially ran the risk of being abandoned.

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this ice cream flavor is more traditional than the flavors i've played with this summer, and in line with my tummy restrictions, i used coconut milk. and as usual, i was careless with the exact measurements, and in fact, this is not custard based. i was feeling lazy, i had a container of overly ripe strawberries and damnit, the summer is ending (and along with it, my carelessness, hopefully) and i'm not ready to put away my ice cream maker.

Strawberry & Coconut Milk Ice Cream

1 can of coconut milk
container of strawberries, rough chopped, i like it chunky
organic sugar, i did not measure but if i had to hazard a guess, i'd say it was about 2 heaping TBL

mix everything in a bowl. leave in fridge until well chilled. throw into ice cream machine and make according to machine specs.

that's it.

hope you had a great Labor Day weekend.

recently finished: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larrson (it only took me 4 months!)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Tuna Empanada

empanadas

it may come as a surprise to you but i don't cook everyday. close. but there are days when i come home from work and i don't want to bother. those days, we either order out, eat out, or Nuria cooks. a few weeks ago, when kim was in town for the Swell Season concert, Nuria made a feast of empanadas, soft boiled quail eggs and a quail egg in pesto sauce dip (she really likes quail eggs...)

so technically, this is her guest post. this cut/paste from her. any commentary is hers, and hers alone.

For the empanada:
- Pastry dough (3 sheets, 2 for the bottom and 1 to cover)
- 3 eggs + one whisked to brush the empanada before baking.
- 1/2 can of roasted red peppers
- 1 can of green olives without seeds, and sliced.
- 4 cans of tuna in oil (important in oil, in water has no taste at all)
- Capers if found.
- 1 1/2 cups of "sofrito"

For the "sofrito":
- 1 Kg (around 2 and 1/2 pounds) of can whole tomatoes (it is OK if they are diced)
- 2 big onions roughly sliced
- 4-5 tbps of olive oil
- Pinch of salt
- "picada": 4 roasted garlics (to roast, put them peeled in a pan and cook them without any oil until brown), a bunch of roasted almonds (like 1/3 cup). Grind/chop the garlic and the almonds either in a food processor or a stone/granite mortar with the pestle.

The first thing is the "sofrito". In a big pan, not tall but wide, add the olive oil, the can tomatoes and the onions. Cover and let it cook at low heat for about 45-60 min. The low heat is important because we don't want to completely reduce the liquid but to cook the tomatoes. Stir occasionally. When done, put in a big bowl (or in a food processor), add the "picada" and puree all together. Let aside and cool. While cooking the "sofrito", hard-boil the eggs, slice the peppers and olives, thaw the filo dough and put the tuna to drain the oil.

The pastry dough must be completely thawed prior to use cause we are gonna roll it to make it thinner. The oven pan that i used was 13 inch X 9 inch, more or less.
Roll together 2 sheets of pastry dough (with the narrower edges overlapping to have just one big sheet) until completely cover the bottom of the pan while having around 1 spare inch of dough in all sides.

Cover the bottom pastry dough with "sofrito", don't be cheap, otherwise it'll get dry when baked. Add the drained tuna, the sliced olives, the sliced peppers, the capers and grate the eggs all over it. Try to make it even. Cover the empanada with another rolled sheet and sealed the edges with the spare dough from the bottom sheet. To seal the edges, the simplest thing is to "glue" the sheets with whisked egg.

Brush the empanada with a whisked egg and bake it for 20-25 minutes at 350F, or until golden.

just finished reading The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

"These were things for which it was impossible to prepare but which one spent a lifetime looking back at, trying to accept, interpret, comprehend. Things that never should have happened, that seemed out of place and wrong, these were what prevailed, what endured, in the end."

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

my cup runneth over

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sunset
Roll down the hill

a week in review:

work in VA resulted in an evening in la buutique's dressing room.
a friday nite in with some broads resulted in a glorious sunset by the water, aggressive bathroom encounter discussions, Hooha Tingler martinis, a strawberry marscapone cream cake and lots & lots of laughter.
sunday funday resulted in a banh xeo cookout & roll down the hill. (action sequence shots courtesy of Dangerous.)

recently seen: Kisses. (thx tango)