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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Eggplant & Ground Pork Stir fry ~ magic hours

Eggplant stir fry
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as a wannabe adequate food photographer i'm on the search for the elusive magical hour, the time early in the morning and the time just before the sun sets ... the time when the light is soft gold, diffused, warm & maybe even dream-like. it is rare indeed for me to rise with the sun, tho i love those hours before the world awakens, and it is impossible for me to make it home in time to put together a meal & present it before the sun departs for the day.

to console myself, i think of other magical moments that highlight my day: first sip of coffee, lunchtime walks with a coworker, a lovely note from an old friend, email threads, coming home to dw... moments that aren't usually captured in images but treasured more reverently. they hold a certain specialness not only because they occurred but because they happen any ol' time.

Eggplant & Ground Pork Stir fry

note: this is a simple, very easy and fast meal to put together; but the evening i made it i got into a fight with a small cafe website that was hosting a super secret, super special show by this guy and well... the magical hour for photography was fast passing but the moment i bought tickets for the show -- THAT was a victorious occasion that only my darling would think to capture on camera.

1/2 lb ground pork
3 long chinese eggplants, cut length-wise and then into bite size pieces
1" ginger, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
maybe 1/4 cup of oyster sauce
1 TBL corn starch
3 TBL cold water

heat up a frying pan and cook up the ground pork, you wanna ground it up small (or not, that's up to you). once that is all cooked up, add in the minced garlic and sliced ginger. make sure it's all sorts of fragrant and integrated in there. i personally like the ginger to be on the larger side so they're easier to fish out prior to plating or eating.

here is when i add in the eggplant, i don't want it to turn to mush but i do want it cooked all the way thru. throw in the oyster sauce, being sure to mix it all the way thru, coating everything. in a bowl, mix together the corn starch and cold water, then add to the pan. allow the sauce to thicken and serve with white or brown rice. garnish with cilantro or sliced green scallions.

*last note: you can actually use more water to make the sauce, it's up to you. i like having gravy/sauce to pour over my rice.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Roasted Chicken with Lemon-Thyme & Rosemary ~ Inspiration

Roasted Chicken with Lemon-Thyme & Rosemary
Roasted Chicken & Seared Asparagus
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inspiration: the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions

as of late i've been uninspired. maybe it's allergies. maybe it's lethargy. it might even be because someone else is cooking and i'm just along for the ride. whatever it is, it's merged over to photography and crafting. i haven't picked up a crochet hook in months. i delete pictures on a whim. thankfully my rss feed is filled to the brim with awe inspiring goodness ~ of the cooked/baked or hand-created variety. i've taken a break. i attend demos. i watch free food photography sessions online.

i gushed over penny de los santos all weekend. i didn't watch every second of her course, but damn, the seconds i did watch? they moved me. they made me think. they made me feel. i had made plans prior to the whole hoopla to roast a chicken over the weekend, to put care into the bird and quite possibly, quite FINALLY, pose it accordingly to make a pretty picture. because i've roasted chickens before, to very satisfactory taste-results but the pictures? uninspiring.

it helps that the initial post for this recipe is so incredibly beautiful. *that* is an example of an inspiring read. *this* is an example of a sunday night dinner with my darling, complete with seared asparagus & kale chips.

notes:
i used lemon-thyme, which is even more lemony than plain ol thyme, and rosemary.
surprise surprise, i did not measure the liquids and just added what i had handy. it wasn't the end of the world.
i did not season with salt, it came out a lil bland, but again, not the end of the world.
the tomato butter was not processed into a smooth paste, rather, i just smeared it everywhere, chunks & all. not the end of the world, people.
save the pan drippings, could make for great gravy.
save the carcass to make chicken stock. you'll thank me for the reminder.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Verdant ~ pan-seared aspargus & salt/vinegar kale chips

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it's the time of year where everything is so alive
~ with blooms
~ with raindrops
~ with shades of green so lush, you want to taste it

salt & vinegar kale chips ~ i used rice vinegar & sprinkled with salt & pepper. after some experimenting, i baked for 6 minutes, flipped the leaves and baked for an additional 3 minutes. consume immediately.

pan-seared asparagus, c/o dw. lest you think i was lazy, i contributed with a roasted chicken. that'll come later this week. promise.

Very simple prep. Wash the spears, chop the woody ends off, and peel the ends of the largest spears. Dry. Mix a drizzle of balsamic vinegar with a drizzle of olive oil. Add fresh ground black pepper. Toss asparagus in oil/vinegar mixture to coat. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Saute in a medium-high heat pan until reach desired doneness.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Spicy Tomato Egg Drop Soup

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remember at the beginning of the year when i said i would make more asian dishes, try different techniques and ingredients? yeah, sorry about that. there was no way to tell that i would be kitchen burned out, or that i would meet someone who would take over the cooking duties while i got over myself. i'm still not completely over my funk, but my cravings for asian food have been strong as of late. as a result, i present this soup that has two key elements that i love: soft boiled eggs and tomato soup.

Spicy Tomato Egg Drop Soup
adapted from the complete vietnamese cookbook by Ghillie Basan

2 TBLS ground nut or veggie oil
1 medium red onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 thai chilies, seeded and finely sliced
1 oz galangal, shredded
6 large, ripe tomatoes, skinned, seeded and finely chopped
1 TBL sugar
2 TBL nuoc mam
4 lime leaves
3 ¾ cups chicken stock
1 TBL wine vinegar
4 eggs
sea salt and ground black pepper

for the garnish
chili oil, for drizzling
1 small bunch fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 small bunch mint leaves, finely chopped

heat the oil in a wok or heavy pan. stir in the onions, garlic, chillies, and galangal and cook until golden and fragrant. add the tomatoes with the sugar, nuoc mam and lime leaves. stir until it resembles a sauce. pour in the stock and bring to a boil. reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. season.

variation

the soup is very tasty without the eggs and could be served as a spicy tomato soup on its own.

just before serving, bring a wide pan of water to a boil. add the vinegar and half a teaspoon of salt. break the eggs into individual cups or small bowls.

stir the water rapidly to create a swirl and drop an egg into the center of the swirl. follow immediately with the others, or poach two at a time and keep the water boiling to throw the whites up over the yolks. turn off the heat, cover the pan and leave to poach until firm enough to lift. poached eggs are traditional but could use lightly fried eggs instead.

using a slotted spoon, lift the eggs out of the water & slip them into the hot soup. drizzle a bit of the chili oil over the eggs, sprinkle with the coriander and mint, and serve.

This is my entry for Delicious Vietnam, a monthly blogging event to celebrate Vietnamese cuisine created by Anh of Food Lovers Journey and Hong & Kim of the Ravenous Couple. Jing of My Fusion Kitchen was this month's host.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

citrus asparagus mushroom & pasta ~ typical

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in an ideal world, i'd be able to kiss the sun awake & either run or do yoga, clock 8 hours, hit up happy hour after work AND still make a balanced meal for dinner before 8pm. however, a typical day? eff the exercise in the AM, i'm phew-ing in relief if i can get in the office by 8:30, happy hour is not an option, neither is yoga if i'm to train properly for a half marathon 5K, and dinner? dw makes dinner because i'm too wiped out and truth be told, spastic to even think about food.
a few things:
  • asparagus is in season. take advantage people.
  • use organic lemons, for the lemon zest. it's good for you.
  • fresh pasta makes a serious difference.
  • everyone who eats asparagus has funky pee smell, but there is a certain percentage of the population who doesn't smell it, it doesn't mean their pee doesn't stink, it just means their nose isn't picking up the odor. this is a typical dw nugget of wisdom. you are welcome.
citrus asparagus mushroom & pasta
fresh tagliatelle pasta, or really, any pasta will do
half onion, chopped
1 glove of garlic, minced
container of crimini mushrooms, cleaned & halved
bundle of fresh asparagus, ends cuts & rest chopped
zest of 1 lemon, juice of 2 lemons
salt/pepper to taste
olive oil
Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
heat up the olive oil in a heavy pan. add in the onions and cook until translucent. throw in the garlic and mushrooms, allow to cook and warm thru.
all the while, cook up the pasta according to package instructions. fresh pasta doesn't take as long, fyi.
at this point, add the cut asparagus to the pan and quickly heat it thru. dw likes it al dente, just barely warmed. season with salt/pepper, lemon zest and juice. take pan off heat and toss in the pasta and coat thru with the hot sauteed veggies. serve immediately, topped with parmasan cheese.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

kentucky horse racing pie

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a few things about this pie: it's good. it's bloody amazing. it's also calories to your hips. your thighs. your ass. your stomach. but you will eat it. and you will like it. nay. you will effing love it so much, you will have it for breakfast the next day. (shout out to my girl Nancy!)

next: i can't tell you what the official name is... unless you call me and i can whisper it to you (pls don't call me. if you can't figure out the name of this pie, we're not friends). it's cus some family in KYgel owns the rights to the name of the pie. sound familiar hon?

last: this pie was made twice this week. first time, dw made it cus i was too sick. he also schooled me in pie crust making. the 2nd time, i had to do it because i wasn't about to let some boy school me in baking for long, even if i do heart his face.

Kentucky Horse Racing Pie
recipe as told by dw's gma: mama

1 pie crust, recipe below
1 Cup Nuts (Pecans)
1 Cup Chocolate Chips
1 Stick of Butter (Melted and Cooled)
1 Cup of Sugar
½ Cup of Flour
2 Beaten Eggs

add all the junx into prepared pie crust, bake at 375° for 40 Minutes

Flaky Pie Crust
from Bon Appetit, November 1999

1 and 1/3 Cups all purpose flour
1 TBL sugar
1/2 tsp salt
6 TBL chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 TBL chilled solid shortening, cut into pieces
3 TBL or more ice water

Mix flour, sugar and salt in processor. Add butter and shortening. Using on/off turns, process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Drizzle 3 tablespoons ice water over mixture. Process just until moist clumps form, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic; chill until dough is firm enough to roll out, about thirty minutes.

Roll out dough on lightly floured work surface to 12-inch round. Transfer dough to 9-inch diameter glass pie dish. Fold overhang under. Crimp edges decoratively. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Happy Derby Weekend!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

banana & cranberry bread ~ the best i ever ate

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i'm going to keep this succinct: i didn't make this bread, this bread that is the best i ever ate. dw made it for me. we had three overly ripe bananas on the counter and i mentioned to him that i don't like bananas with spots on them, and that they're gonna have to go into a bread or be wasted. {i'm one of those banana snobs.} we made plans to bake a bread together, but as it happened, i woke up saturday feeling poorly and like the princess that i am, i laid up on the couch & rewatched the Royal Wedding (because twice wasn't enough...) and allowed my darling to do the weekend baking.

Quick Banana Bread
slightly adapted from the original Joy of Cooking

Preheat oven to 350F
Have all ingredients at about 75F

Sift before measuring:
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
Re-sift with:
2¼ tsp double acting baking powder
½ tsp salt

Blend until creamy:
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cups sugar
¾ tsp grated lemon rind

Beat in:
1-2 beaten eggs
1-1¼ cups ripe banana pulp

Add sifted ingredients in about 3 parts to the sugar mixture. Beat the batter after each addition until smooth.

Fold in:
½ cup broken nuts (optional)
¼ cup finely chopped apricots or craisins (optional)

Place batter in a greased bread pan. Bake bread for about 1 hour or until done. (Test with a toothpick or skewer into the middle. Should come out clean.) Cool before slicing.