Monday, July 31, 2006

polenta crisps, take i

This is part of a light summer dinner menu I have planned, but I thought I'd do a test run of these first.

polenta crisps with smoked salmon and crème fraîche
I'm having a little trouble with presentation—the crème fraîche melts on the hot polenta crisps and the salmon rosettes tend to tip over. I may have to rethink the structure. But as a combination, it's quite nice.
[polenta, pecorina cheese, smoked salmon, crème fraîche, green onions, pepper]

Sunday, July 30, 2006

fajita fiesta

beef fajitas
This is my fallback dinner. We usually have all the ingredients in the house; I just vary the meat.
[beef, chipotle chile rub (chipotle chiles, ancho chiles, garlic, oregano, salt), onions, red peppers, tortillas, cilantro]

Orangina shandy
I just learned this term from Rachael at Fresh Approach Cooking and this particular variation from my sister. It's a mix of Newcastle Brown Ale and Orangina. It's surprisingly refreshing.
[Newcastle Brown Ale, Orangina]

[avocados, tomatoes, red onions, garlic, lime juice, salt, cilantro]

Thursday, July 20, 2006

bento box

It's not often that we have a lunch that does justice to the cuteness of this bento box we got in Japan.

unagi bento box
The croquettes were originally part of the insanity that was the July 16 dinner. They just got delayed till last night, making an appearance as leftovers for lunch.
[rice, unagi, vegetables, croquettes (potatoes, cream, egg, panko, flour, salt, pepper)]

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


nori-crusted steak, redux
[tri-tip steak, nori, sesame seeds, crushed red pepper, salt]

I usually pan-fry these, but I decided to try deep-frying. Wow, does that make a difference.
[potatoes, milk, panko, egg, flour, salt, pepper, oil]

Asian vegetables
I suppose I should learn my Asian veggies, but these are something similar to bok choy, but darker and curlier.
[Asian veggies, garlic, chiles, green onions, salt, soy sauce, cornstarch, oil]

Sunday, July 16, 2006

small plates for a lot of people = big plates

The whole menu was supposed to hinge around the fact that we were having hamachi. I tried to keep it izakaya-style. So, I think it mostly ties together, except for the chilled soup; that was the result of my having thought too much about it and getting excited about making it. All very tasty, nonetheless.

bacon-wrapped enoki mushrooms
Key words: bacon-wrapped. These turned out to be really great. The mushrooms were meltingly tender, and the bacon gave just the right smoky saltiness. I think I would pump the heat up a little more in the oven next time, to crisp the bacon a little more. The recipe called for 425°F, I might push it to 450°F. Either that, or pan-fry them.
[bacon, enoki mushroom, spring onions, pepper]

chilled corn soup with watercress and scallops

I wanted to make a chilled soup, and corn seemed like a natural choice. Next time I may be lazy and buy frozen corn; I really hate husking corn, the silk gets everywhere. The recipe was inspired by 1. a crab soup we had at Bouchée in Carmel, and 2. a recipe for vichyssois with zucchini and scallops. It turned out to be a very lovely combination. Refreshing, sweet, and crisp, with the scallops adding body.
[corn, fish and chicken stocks, coconut milk, saffron, serrano and red jalapeño chiles, garlic, ginger, watercress, scallops, salt, pepper]

miso soup, with hamachi
My mom provided this great miso soup.
[miso, water, green onions, hamachi trimmings, tofu, wakame]

watercress, tomato, and tofu salad
[watercress, tomato, tofu, soy sauce, mirin, rice wine vinegar]

make-your-own hamachi handrolls
We have a fish importer friend who provides us with restaurant-quality sashimi. I know, I'm spoiled rotten. My mom also has an awesome recipe for sushi rice (which I still have yet to learn), which just adds to the experience.
[nori, hamachi, sushi rice, avocado, radish sprouts, wasabi]

wild mushroom mix
[oyster, shiitake, and woodear mushrooms, garlic, salt, pepper]

nori-crusted steak
I let the butcher talk me into a tri-tip instead of the recipe’s sirloin. Bad move on my part. I should have insisted on the sirloin I originally wanted. He was only trying to be helpful because I told him I was serving 10 people. Thus, the steak was too chewy. Still tasty, but not the texture I was going for.
[tri-tip steak, nori, sesame seeds, crushed red pepper, salt]

eggplant and pork
[eggplant, ground pork, garlic, ginger, serrano chiles, soy sauce, mirin, rice wine vinegar, cornstarch]

fallen chocolate cake
This recipe came from Baking Illustrated. It's the best combination—extremely impressive, yet shockingly easy. We were going to put 34 candles into one of the cakes, but the problem with the whole “hot” cake thing is that the candles melt into the cake. Poor Chih sacrificed and ate the slightly waxy one.
[chocolate, butter, eggs, sugar, flour, salt]

Saturday, July 15, 2006

birthday brunch: it's a strata fun!

Sorry, no pictures because I never seem to remember to take pictures, or I think about it after we’ve all dug in and made it gross looking. Besides, it was a birthday party, there were kids running around, and I was still making waffles when everyone arrived.

sausage and mushroom strata
[bread, butter, Italian sausage, mushrooms, onions, milk, eggs, monterey jack and cheddar cheeses, powdered and stone-ground mustard, salt, pepper]

zucchini strata
The zucchini made this entirely too watery. I think it’s worth another attempt, but I’d definitely salt the zucchini first to try to pull out some of the liquid, as well as removing very watery seeds.
[bread, butter, zucchini, garlic, onions, milk, eggs, monterey jack and cheddar cheeses, powdered and stone-ground mustard, salt, pepper]

belgian waffles
I've been on the search for the best belgian waffles I can make with our waffle iron. This one comes pretty close, although they still don’t rise as well as I hoped. But crispy, eggy, and light.
[all-purpose flour, cornstarch, buttermilk, eggs, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt]