Monday, July 23, 2007

cold sesame noodles

My mom taught me how to make this dish about a year ago. It's taken me this long to get around to making it myself. It's perfect for the heat wave we've been having.

cold sesame noodles
This is so great for hot weather. The noodles and sauce stay the same and you can add whatever other things you like. I've used chicken, tomatoes, and cucumber, but you can add bean sprouts, shredded fresh bamboo, shrimp, whatever you have around that might taste good with something peanuty/sesame-y.

To make the sauce, take 1 part sesame paste, 2 parts peanut butter, add enough hot water to make it smooth (cold water works, too, but the hot water brings it together faster), and add soy sauce, vinegar, and chili oil to taste. For the noodles, you can use spaghetti (which is what my mom uses). I used some Chinese noodles that were in my cupboard.

[noodles, sesame sauce (sesame paste, peanut butter, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, hot water, chili oil), cucumbers, tomatoes, chicken]


Sunday, July 22, 2007

more short ribs

I guess I make short ribs a lot. It's easy to feed a crowd with, and takes no last-minute preparation which is why it's become my party food of choice.

short ribs with mashed potatoes & asparagus
These were made with a red wine and tomato base. The fresh pearl onions were so cute, i had to pick them up. I added half of them in the beginning, to help flavor the broth, and the other half at the end, so they'd keep their shape.
[short ribs, red wine, crushed tomatoes, pearl onions, tomato paste, garlic, salt, pepper, sugar]

peach blueberry crisp
I wasn't careful in my calculations when doubling this recipe, and didn't make enough topping. Plus, the hazelnuts I used were slightly off, which kind of ruined the whole thing. I'll have to try it again without making silly mistakes. Overall, the crisp wasn't crisp and the peaches were kind of soggy. It was kind of a waste of good fruit.

Topping Mixture
-6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
-1/4 cup light brown sugar , packed
-1/4 cup granulated sugar
-1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
-1/4 teaspoon table salt
-5 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
-3/4 cups pecans or whole almonds, chopped coarse (or chopped fine if mixing topping by hand)

-5 cups peaches , (peaches have been peeled, pitted, and cut into half-inch wedges), about 5 medium peaches
-1 cup fresh blueberries , rinsed
-1 tablespoon quick-cooking tapioca
-1/4 cup granulated sugar
-1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
-1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest from 1 lemon

1. For the Topping: Place flour, brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in food processor workbowl fitted with steel blade. Add chilled butter and pulse until mixture moves from dry sand-like appearance with large lumps of butter to a coarse cornmeal texture, about three 4-second bursts. Add nuts and pulse until mixture resembles crumbly sand, about five 1-second bursts. Do not overprocess or mixture will take on a smooth, cookie-dough-like texture. (To mix by hand, allow butter pieces to sit at room temperature for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in medium bowl. Add butter; toss to coat. Pinch butter chunks and dry mixture between fingertips until mixture looks like crumbly wet sand. Add nuts and toss to distribute evenly. Do not overmix.) Refrigerate mixture while preparing fruit, at least 15 minutes.

2. Toss peaches, blueberries, tapioca, sugar, lemon juice, and zest in medium bowl.

3. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Scrape fruit mixture with rubber spatula into 8-inch square (2 quart) baking pan or 9-inch round deep dish pie plate. Distribute chilled topping evenly over fruit; bake for 40 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees; bake until fruit is bubbling and topping is deep golden brown, about 5 minutes longer. Serve warm or at room temperature.
[from Cooks Illustrated, July 1998]

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Thursday, July 19, 2007


I've never met the cow that my cheese came from before. On our trip to Ensenada, we stopped by our friends' family friends house where they had a cow from which the milk for this cheese came.

The cheese was salty and crumbly, with a little tartness. It melted beautifully in the quesadilla. I put in tomatoes from my mom's garden, and the flour tortillas came from Mexico as well.
[flour tortilla, queso, tomatoes]


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

bad for your heart, good for your tummy

We definitely eat this dish more frequently than can be good for our health. But it tastes so good.

braised pork belly
I just learned that traditionally, you should deep-fry the pork belly before braising. It helps to render the fat. The most I would probably do is pan-fry, since this comes out pretty tasty without the deep frying, but maybe I'll try it one day to compare.

- 1 lb pork belly, whole
- oil for frying (deep or otherwise)
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup rice wine
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 big slices ginger
- 2 large cloves garlic
- 1 star anise
- 1 clove
- 1/2 stick cinnamon

In a large dutch oven, pan or deep fry the pork belly to render out some of the fat. Remove pork from pan, drain off most of the fat.
Combine all other ingredients in pan and stir to dissolve brown sugar. Put the pork back into the pan, and bring to a boil. Depending on the size of your pot, the braising liquid should come about halfway up the pork belly. Reduce to a very low simmer, cover and let cook for about 3 hours, rotating occasionally to get an even coating on the pork. The pork is done when it is very tender, almost falling apart.
You can add some peeled hard-boiled eggs at the last half hour for some yummy soy sauce eggs.

salted mustard greens
I bought these, but my mom just told me how to make them. It's ridiculously easy. Chop mustard greens finely. Put in a colander and salt heavily. Let drain for at least 30 minutes. Squeeze out the excess water, taste. If it's too salty, rinse, and squeeze again. That's it. Easy peasy.
[mustard greens, salt]

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

another trip to morocco

I know this is a repeat, but I liked the pictures of the lavash so much I couldn't resist.

lavash and olives
This is lavash from Trader Joes, toasted in the oven until crispy and then broken up. I bought the olives from the Santa Monica (Pico) farmer's market.
[lavash, olives]

chicken with olives and preserved lemons
The chicken was fall-off-the-bone tender, and the olives added a nice brininess and the lemons added brightness. This batch of lemons was mellower than my first.
[chicken, olives, preserved lemons, water, onions, garlic, paprika, cumin, saffron]

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Monday, July 09, 2007

guest chef series #8: dinner and game night

K&M invited us over to their amazingly cute house for a tasty dinner and games.

super salad
The salad was something else. It was so creamy and good, with so many textures and flavors...yummy!
[mixed greens, iceberg lettuce, eggs, tomatoes, ranch dressing (?), sesame seeds, cheese]

roast pork loin with apricot glaze
The highlight was the apricot glaze. Their apricot tree hand a bumper crop, and they made apricot jam (9 jars!) and used some as a glaze for the pork. Very sweet and fresh tasting, it complemented the pork nicely.

grilled steak
Very simple and very flavorful.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

treats from taiwan

This is my absolute favorite fish, and it's only good when it's caught near the coast of Taiwan. So, it comes to us in sporadic shipments in the luggage of family members and close friends.

It's salted before it's frozen, so no seasoning is really needed. Just pan-fry and eat with rice.

My mom just handed me a bunch of green's from someone's garden. She's always getting fresh-grown somethings from some neighbor/friend/patient or other, so in the summer we have an endless supply of homegrown veggies and fruits.
[mystery greens, garlic, oil, salt, pepper]

tomato cucumber salad
More of the aforementioned fruits and vegetables. The tomatoes, lemon, and mint came from my mom's garden, and the cucumbers from a patient.
[tomatoes, cucumbers, mint, salt, pepper, lemon juice]


Thursday, July 05, 2007

meat pasta

Sometimes all you want is a basic pasta.

rotini with meat sauce
This is comfort food for me since my mom used to make it for us when we were kids. I know, not normal for a Chinese family, but hey, we're in America, right? I sprang for the good Parmesan, but used jarred pasta sauce (from G&R's goodbye pantry).
[rotini, Prego, ground beef, onions, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, parmesan cheese.]