October 13, 2008

foodbuzz publisher community launches

congratulations to foodbuzz for the new global community! not only is it great to be a part of foodbuzz, but this is truly a unique and great feature!

here's the official press release, enjoy!


San Francisco – October 13, 2008: Foodbuzz, Inc., officially inaugurates its food blogger community with more than 1,000 blog partners, a global food blogging event and an online platform that captures the real-people, real-time power of food publishing in every corner of the world. At launch, the Foodbuzz community ranks as one of the top-10 Internet destinations for food and dining (Quantcast), with bloggers based in 45 countries and 863 cities serving up daily food content.
“Food bloggers are at the forefront of reality publishing and the dramatic growth of new media has redefined how food enthusiasts access tasty content,” said Doug Collister, Executive Vice President of Foodbuzz, Inc. “Food bloggers are the new breed of local food experts and at any minute of the day, Foodbuzz is there to help capture the immediacy of their hands-on experiences, be it a memorable restaurant meal, a trip to the farmers market, or a special home-cooked meal.”
Foodbuzz is the only online community with content created exclusively by food bloggers and rated by foodies. The site offers more than 20,000 pieces of new food and dining content weekly, including recipes, photos, blog posts, videos and restaurant reviews. Members decide the “tastiness” of each piece of content by voting and “buzz” the most popular posts to the top of the daily menu of submissions. Foodbuzz currently logs over 13 million monthly page views and over three million monthly unique visitors. “Our goal is to be the number-one online source of quality food and dining content by promoting the talent, enthusiasm and knowledge of food bloggers around the globe,” said Ben Dehan, founder and CEO of Foodbuzz, Inc.

cPe 2008

September 10, 2008

baked eggs

the breakfast of champs

there's something about a sunday morning breakfast that's so cozy to me. i love waking up later than usual, getting into my robe and heading to the kitchen to get the pot of coffee brewing and breakfast cooking.
my latest favorite sunday breakfast is baked eggs. i blog-searched baked egg recipes, until i realized that a baked egg is simply that: a baked egg. there really isn't a recipe for it.
the oven preheats to 350º and you can get started on the rest.
i got out my ramekins, rubbed them down with butter and cracked an egg (or two) into it. sprinkle some kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste after that. you could leave it as simple as this, but i wanted more of a cheesy herb flavor, so i also sprinkled some oregano and grated mozzarella cheese on top.

i had a few slices of texas toast in my freezer and popped those into the oven as well.
so as not to end up throwing out wasted tomatoes, i added the tomatoes and mushrooms into a ziplock bag, added some olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and shook it up to coat.

i arranged it all onto a baking tray and into the oven it went for about 8-10mins.

along with a good cup of ecuadorian coffee, i would say this is the breakfast of champs!
if only i could have it every morning...

cPe 2008

omnivore's 100

my goal is to work on this list and see how far i can get!

How the Omnivore's 100 Works:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional: Post a comment at Very Good Taste, linking to your results.

(58/100) My Omnivore’s Hundred:
1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile

6. Black Pudding
7. Cheese Fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho [blogged]
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle (in Dubai)
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns (hello Wao Bao)
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes

22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras

24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl - mmm san fran
33. Salted lassi (i'd much rather have a mango lassi)
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (Cognac, yes. Fat cigar, no)
37. Clotted Cream Tea
38. Vodka Jelly/Jell-O (huge fan of jello shots!)
39. Gumbo (only if I can have it without okra)
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat's milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth $120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut (even had krispy kreme bread pudding in charlotte!)
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal (not in almost a decade)
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini (does a sip of my hubby's count?)
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine - must try!
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores [blogged]
62. Sweetbreads
63. kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian (i have! at my in-laws. and i'll admit..the taste is like a custardy mango, but the smell is putrid)
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake (all of 'em!)
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe (at mercat a la planxa)
74. Gjetost or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu - i have a mini bottle sitting on my desk as a gift from a coworker... guess i should try it?
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang Souchong
80. Bellini (absolutely love bellinis)
81. Tom Yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky - my cubicle snacks!
84. 3 Michelin Star Tasting Menu
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers

89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate - must try!
91. Spam (my hubby's filipino, what can i say. he got me)
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa - only regular harissa
94. Catfish - hate it!
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

cPe 2008

August 13, 2008

julius meinl kaffeehaus

julius meinl is a leading manufacturer of coffee, based in vienna, austria. i was first introduced to meinl while meeting up with a good friend for a 10day vacation in austria. not only was the flagship store beautiful (and impeccably clean), but the little cafe section was lovely. on my last day in vienna, we made it back to meinl so that i could buy a few gift items, and to catch our breathe with a cup of melange and a pastry. yum!
back in chicago, on southport & addison ave, sits one of two meinl locations in the city. even though i live in the suburbs, and it's a good 40-50 min drive away, when i want meinl, only meinl will do.
so we make our way to the southport location and sit for an hour or so, enjoying peace and quiet conversation.. or live music if it's a weekend evening. it's just the perfect place.
now! to the food of course.
when i'm hungry for more than coffee and sweets, and we've made our way there around lunchtime or early evening, i pretty much get the same thing every time: frittaten soup & a pate finger sandwich. the combo just hits the spot. then comes the best part: dessert
if there isn't an interesting special going on, i get a small melange and the ever-popular mohr im hemd (think: chocolate lava cake, but better).
the melange is half coffee (or espresso), half milk. it's perfect and just the way i like my coffee - milky! :)
the mohr im hemd... you just have to try it. it's chocolatey, warm, gooey molten core, powdered sugar dusted on top. it's divine.
not only is the coffee selection perfect, but the pastry and cake selection is more than enough. even the cupcakes are delicious!

the photo below is of a special coffee they had recently. it's similar to a caramel macchiato, except a tiny version of what you order at your local starbucks. it's the right amount of bitter espresso, frothy milk and a punch of caramel sweetness.

>> a very important side note: meinl serves rooibos tea, in not only the plain traditional way, but also the following varieties:
* rooibos vanilla
* rooibos fitness
* rooibos caramel - my fave
* rooibos nougat
* rooibos orange-quince
* rooibos plum
* rooibos rising sun
* rooibos strawberry cream
* rooibos wildkirsche

enough variety for you? :) i love the fact that they serve my favorite tea leaf, from my south africa. and what's even better is that you can purchase bags of the loose leaf, a box of tea bags and replicate it at home.
if you can't make it to meinl (and, at best, the vienna location), think about ordering a gift basket for yourself to give it a try. i promise it will brighten up your morning routine.

cPe 2008

August 12, 2008

latin lunch

if i haven't premeditated the meal, i spend most sunday afternoons scanning my pantry and trying to match whatever i find to
the choice of thawed protein from my freezer. this particular sunday, i was quite indecisive and wanted little bits of different flavors... at least i decided the kind of flavors. :)
the menu: carne asada, garlic shrimp, black beans and homemade tortilla chips!

there isn't much of a recipe for any of these menu items... but here it goes.

carne asada
skirt steak
kosher salt
black pepper
asada spice mix (thank you archer farms)

season the steak. if you have time, let it sit for a bit so the spices can sink in. once you're ready, get a grill pan heated to high, brush a little olive oil onto the pan, and add the steak. skirt steak cooks quite fast, so i'd say about 3-4mins each side. once it's nicely grilled, set it aside for about 5mins before slicing.

garlic shrimp
1 bag of shrimp
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbsp olive oil
kosher salt

heat the olive oil on medium high. add the minced garlic and shrimp and toss to coat. season with kosher salt and pepper to taste. if you like, you could also add a little bit of chili flakes or my overly used spice: paprika. :)

black beans
1 can of black beans, preferably organic
kosher salt & pepper to taste

heat it up in a little pot. it's that easy.

tortilla chips - my favorite part
corn tortillas
kosher salt
1/2 - 1 cup veg oil

depending on the size of the pan you'll use, add enough oil to the pan so that it will be deep enough for the tortillas to float in. once you've added that much, heat it to medium high.
in the meantime, take a stack of 5 or so corn tortillas at once, and cut into quarters. once the oil is hot enough, start frying the tortilla chips.
have a plate with a sheet of paper towel ready, so that the chips can go straight onto that to drain off a bit. for each batch of chips that come out, sprinkle some kosher salt onto the hot chips, and once cool enough to handle, toss the salted chips into your serving dish.

put these 4 items altogether, and you have a delicious and satisfying, multi-flavored latin inspired lunch, or dinner. buen provecho!

cPe 2008

July 28, 2008

cannelini bean chutney with grits fries

this dinner idea is thanks to a post at thursday night smackdown. it sounded healthy, looked delicious and the ingredients were all to be found in my pantry!
except, i didn't have polenta, so i substituted grits. and for the accompanying dish, i made it up.

for the grits "fries", cook the grits according to the directions on the box... then pour it out onto a baking sheet, and spread it until it's about 1" thick. place the baking sheet in the fridge to set up a bit, while you start cooking the chutney.
chutney is sort of a salsa/stew/veggie dish. it has a tomato-onion-garlic base, and you can add just about anything to it after that.

cannilini chutney

3 strips of bacon, in big cubes
1 can of organic crushed tomatoes
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp masala
1 can of cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
2 curry leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
kosher salt & pepper, to taste

in a saucepan, start frying up the bacon squares. once they're cooked, set them aside to drain; now you have some bacon grease! to that add some extra olive oil, the chopped onions, and garlic. when they start to brown a bit, sprinkle the masala over it and mix to incorporate. then add the crushed tomatoes and cannelini beans and allow it to heat through. stir occasionally while the chutney cooks, and season with salt and pepper. half-way through cooking, add about half of the bacon pieces back to the pot and stir. drop the curry leaves in (optional) and just when the chutney is about done, take them out.
> while the chutney cooks, you can work on the grits fries.
once the grits are set and cooled off in the fridge, cut them into steak-fries-sized strips. heat a griddle pan and add some butter to melt. place the strips on the pan and brown on each side and until it's warmed through.

when the chutney and grits fries are done, plate it. you can add some freshly chopped parsley and extra crispy bacon to the top, or just dig in!

cPe 2008

salmon cakes with wasabi mayo dipping sauce

i stumbled across that "healthy eating" show on foodnetwork one day, and she was making salmon cakes with an asian dipping sauce. salmon could very well be my favorite fish, so i'd eat it in just about any way. i had to try this recipe. i knew i'd be eating it all alone - the hubby isn't a fan, but oh well.
so i bought a can of salmon, and a small can of yellow fin tuna. i didn't want all salmon, so i thought the mix might be nice, and not too overpowering. i also made a quick dipping sauce for the cakes - it was all delicious.

salmon cakes
1 can of salmon
1 small can of yellowfin tuna
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 scallion, finely chopped
1 cup of panko bread crumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
kosher salt & pepper
a little flour (seasoned with a little salt, pepper and paprika) to dredge
oil for frying

add the salmon and tuna into a mixing bowl and flake apart using a fork. add the lightly beaten egg and combine. then add the panko, a little at a time, so as not to dry out the mixture. add the onions and scallions, and seasoning. mix it well.
once it's able to hold shape, make small patties and set aside. once the patties are shaped, dredge each in seasoned flour and start slowly frying them until each side is nicely browned.

while they're frying, you can get started on the dipping sauce... which takes about 2mins to make.

wasabi mayo dipping sauce
1 tbsp wasabi mayo
1 tbsp light mayo
1 tbsp sour cream
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 splashes of soy sauce
juice of one lime

combine the wasabi mayo, light mayo and sour cream. add one splash of soy sauce and taste. if you prefer it with more, add another splash. add the dijon mustard and lime juice. mix it altogether. add any of the ingredients to your taste, and set aside.

when the salmon cakes are ready, plate it up. i used some romaine, sliced radishes, and then the cake with some sauce drizzled on top.
so good!

cPe 2008

mango spritzer

this is the perfect summer drink to accompany anything. i love sprintzers. i was introduced to them 3 years ago in austria, where i'd order a white wine spritzer everywhere i went - half wine, half sparkling water.
so to copy that, i make a mango spritzer as a healthy alternative. it's 50% mango juice, and 50% perrier sparkling water. make sure both have been in the fridge and are nice and cold, or else, add a few ice cubes or crushed ice.
stir it up, and you've got yourself a fizzy, sweet, delicious faux cocktail.
to make it a real cocktail, add some rum or vodka. mmm :)

cPe 2008

summer salad

i'm really not much of a "salad person". i prefer my food hot, and preferably with some type of meat and starch involved. but since it is the summer, and e enjoys a good salad now and again (albeit, from whole foods!), i attempted to throw one together for a light sunday lunch.

i used a spring mix of greens, olives, spicy shrimp, bacon, roma tomatoes, avocado cubes, and artichoke hearts.
the combination, along with some balsamic vinaigrette, was quite good. along with a piece of garlic toast, it made for a light, healthy, summer-y lunch... and i got some bacon in there too :)

cPe 2008

tizi melloul

for our regularly scheduled "date night", i decided on a new place to try. i'd read about it quite a bit, and was excited about it, just by looking at the menu.

the place we went to was tizi melloul, a moroccan restaurant in the heart of chicago. it's near a lot of other cute, trendy restaurants, like sushi samba rio.
our first impression - kinda small... but the decor is just so very-near-authentic, we were blown away. if i didn't look out of the window at the fanny-packed tourists trekking by, i would have thought we were in some faraway land.
the place is beautiful, classy, sexy.

the food is just the same. we ordered steamed mussels as a starter, which i had read about online, and which our server also recommended. everyone around us was getting them too.
they arrived sizzling hot, and the smell... yum! they even smelled spicy and exotic. they mussel shells hold all the seasoning... it's pasted with what must be a mixture of paprika, and masalas, kosher salt? who knows, all i know is that it's delicious. probably the best mussel dish ever. EVER.
so you pick the mussels out of the shell, rub it on the shell's seasoning a bit, then dip it in the harissa butter sauce. so so so good!

then it was onto the entrees. i ordered the grilled hanger steak, while e got the lamb loin. i am a huge lamb fan, but i wasn't thrilled with this one. e loved it though. and i loved my hanger steak. and i also love that it came with french fries... which i lovingly dipped into the accompanying sauce.

dessert was... eh. this is not a dessert place. if you want something yummy, get the fondue from sushi samba rio up the street. our server suggested the poached pineapple brulee. while the brulee'd pineapple slice was delicious, the rice pudding was the blandest i've ever had. it seriously needed sugar, or syrup, or molasses! lol.
oh well... due to my lack of interest in my dessert, she could tell i wasn't impressed. but the complimentary champagne was a nice touch.

the customer service at this place is just on point. they make sure you're attended to (e.g. it was a busy night, but the manager came over to take our orders)... they check back on you at the perfect times... the manager makes rounds to ask about the food and service. and at the end of the night, you leave knowing that you're going to visit again, and indulge in those mussels.

cPe 2008

homemade masks

while the hubby was away on a business trip, i used one sunday afternoon as the perfect opportunity to have my lovely ladies over for a fun afternoon of.... making homemade masks, having drinks and chit-chatting like we do so well! i called it my "masks & martinis" party... and gave away organic homemade soaps as party favors. cute huh?
it was a huge success... we even had a professional masseuse set up in my 2nd bedroom!
below is a quick photo of the ingredients used for the masks... including sliced potato, cooked oatmeal, strawberries, olive oil, etc.
they were super easy to find online, and everyday ingredients. give it a try one afternoon! :)

cPe 2008

pho ha

thanks to my sister's recommendation from years ago, while sitting at work one day, sick as a dog, i was just craving a bowl of steaming hot pho.
there aren't many places around here that have good pho, aside from the "ok" version at stir crazy. *chuckle*

i spent about an hour that afternoon trying to find a vietnamese spot along my way home from work, that had good reviews, a menu i could see online, and wasn't out of my way.
search results: 0

then the lightbulb went off and i remembered my sister talking about a place not so far from my house. she'd been there 2 or more years ago, but i remembered it.

so i searched google maps for the general area, then checked with her on the place i found, and voila! found it: pho ha

my order:

#2 spring rolls,
#8 rice with sizzling diced,

#26 pho with sliced beef and flank, and

#31 banh mi house specialty

total wait time: 15mins

total cost: around $30

everything was deliciously fresh! the pho was amazing and definitely hit the (sick) spot. the sizzling beef was very tasty, with nice veggies. and that banh mi... it was my first... and definitely won't be my last. it may be the very best cold sandwich i've had. and it just felt so healthy!


the portions are very generous as well - we got about 3 servings of pho out of one order.

so! if you're in the northwest suburbs, looking for a good little hole-in-the-wall vietnamese take out spot, head over to pho ha in glendale heights.

cPe 2008

strawberry patch waffles

while i don't make time for a good breakfast everyday, sunday mornings are set aside for making, or baking, a good breakfast.
that either means bacon & eggs, or something sweet. sweet is most likely a waffle. we love them. and if we happen to have fresh strawberries in the fridge, i make strawberry patch waffles. ok i stole the name from richard walker's. i use a basic waffle recipe - for 2.

classic waffles for 2
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1 egg
1 cup of warmed milk
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

to serve: powdered sugar for dusting and fresh strawberries, sliced

steps: combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until you get a nice batter.
get the waffle iron heated up, spray with pam, and pour enough batter to cover the iron. cook to desired consistency (about 3mins on high).

serve hot with sliced strawberries, powdered sugar - and if you eat waffles like i do, add some maple syrup and whipped cream to it all.
those boxes of waffle mixes have nothing on this simple and so easy recipe!

cPe 2008

peach cobbler

this is hubby recipe #2 ... for our love of peach cobbler, and our love of paula deen.
this was done word for word from paula's recipe, so i will just copy and paste it here:
4 cups peeled,
sliced peaches
2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup water
8 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/2 cups milk
Ground cinnamon, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the peaches, 1 cup sugar, and water in a saucepan and mix well. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Put the butter in a 3-quart baking dish and place in oven to melt.
Mix remaining 1 cup sugar, flour, and milk slowly to prevent clumping. Pour mixture over melted butter. Do not stir. Spoon fruit on top, gently pouring in syrup. Sprinkle top with ground cinnamon, if using. Batter will rise to top during baking. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes.
To serve, scoop onto a plate and serve with your choice of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

RESULT: here's a photo of my hubby's peach cobbler. YUM!

cPe 2008

fish n chips

i'm writing this post courtesy of my hubby, e.
he occasionally gets into a cooking mood... most likely by watching a paula deen show then taking over my desire to copy her recipe. :)
i sit back and watch, and snap shots of the process, then dig in. most times... ok, so far, everything he's cooked has been quite delicious.

that being said, here's his recipe #1 for fish n chips, to satisfy our english/south african cravings. (he cheated by using oven-baked crinkle chips, and store-bought coleslaw) :)

beer-battered fish

6 pieces of cod
2 cups of all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
2 eggs
2 cups of beer
1/2 cup of oil
flour for dredging
oil for frying

add all ingredients in a bowl and mix together until it's all incorporated and looks like fluffy batter.
season cod with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour. dip each piece in batter to coat evenly.
once ready, fry the pieces on high on each side until nicely browned.
> in the meantime, if you're going the hubby route, get the chips going in the oven as directed, and start plating.

i must say, it was absolutely delicious! and made for a really good quick sandwich later on too! :)

cPe 2008

July 25, 2008

surf and turf

a week after the hubby and i got back from san fran for a family wedding, we were still very much in the pacific/beachy/sunny mood. and the following sunday, was the perfect day for cooking to our desire, and pretend we were back on the west coast. that, and the parents-in-law, who had spent extra time in cali, brought us back a fresh king crab. yum!

so sunday afternoon e, the sis and i took a drive up to whole foods to pick up a few things for our feast. i got some pre-marinated shrimp kebabs (i know i know... next time i'll marinade myself), as well as some chuck, and fresh veggies. oh, and a side of potato salad.
this was to be a lazy feast. :)
brought it all home, picked up the king crab and got to work. so the only cooking i really did was seasoning the meat and veggies and arranging it all on bamboo skewers. then onto the "grill"... a countertop one, i.e.

i just seasoned the meat and veggies with kosher salt, black pepper, some paprika (i'm obsessed) and brushed a little bit of evoo once it was skewered.

in the meantime, e got to steaming the king crab in our pasta cooker. haha.

in about 10mins, everything was done and we got to eating in our little kitchen with the patio door open, the sun streaming in, and the smell of grilled seafood and steak!

cPe 2008

July 11, 2008


murta- what? well, a little background.

this dish is commonly found in the countries of yemen, malaysia, brunei and singapore. it originates, however, in india and is said to have made its way into middle eastern countries during the muslim conquest of india. wherever it's from, it's delicious.
this is a very quick and satisfying snack or friday night dinner. murtabak is a wrapped roti (indian flat bread) filled with any type of meat curry. the variation i made was a simple ground beef curry with peas. instead of wrapping it in a roti, i used thawed parathas from the local indian grocery store's freezer. lazy? yes. still delicious? yes.

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1lb lean ground beef
1/2 large onion, chopped according to preference (i like mine finer)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 green chili, sliced
ginger root, grated to make about 1 tbsp
1 tbsp masala
1 tbsp garam masala
1/2 cup of water
salt & pepper to taste
about a cup of frozen sweet peas
handful of cilantro, chopped finely
1 pack of parathas (plain or onion)

allow the parathas to thaw.
heat the oil in a saucepan on medium-high and add the onions, garlic, ginger and chilis. once they are starting to brown slightly, add the masala and stir to incorporate. add the ground beef to that and stir, to break up the meat into the onions and garlic mixture. once it is nicely mixed together, add a bit of water to the pan and close it with a lid to allow the beef to cook through. season with salt and pepper to taste. once it is just about done, add the frozen peas and chopped cilantro and allow it to cook through.

the entire dish takes about 15mins to make, so while that is going... you can start separating the parathas.
once you're ready to assemble the murtabak, take one paratha and add about 4 tbsp of the curry mixture onto the center. wrap the paratha around the curry, just like you would a burrito. if you're having trouble getting it to all be sealed, you can use a bit of egg wash or water on the paratha.

once they're all wrapped up, get a griddle going with a bit of butter and start frying the murtabak slowly on each side until all sides are golden brown and the parathas are cooked through. it will take about 8-10mins and then you're all done!

the hubby and i had ours with a beer and made it friday night dinner :) yum!!

cPe 2008


where have i been?
well, basically... since tastespotting was down for a few weeks, i got lazy to post anything on here if i didn't have the chance to make it onto the tastespotting website. hehe...
but now that it's back up, i'm back!
it's such a dreary, rainy, stormy friday in chicago - i'd say it's the perfect weather to get to blogging!

cPe 2008

May 09, 2008

steel cut oats

oatmeal is my choice of breakfast during the week mainly because it's nice and warm, and i add so much brown sugar to it that it's almost syrupy... and, ok, it only keeps me full for about 2hrs, after which i am instantly starving!
now i'm talking about regular quick-cooking oats that you find everywhere. a friend of ours was talking about steel cut oats a few weeks back and i thought i'd give it a try. so i searched for it. even the whole foods near me didn't have any when i looked, and guess where i finally found some... super target. didn't i say super target is awesome?
so i read the instructions on the box, and decided that cooking oats for 30mins in the morning when i'm hungry was not the way to go. i went the pre-soaking way. so i boiled a few cups of water in a pot, then stirred in the oats... then turned off the heat and covered the pot. the oats soaked over night and would be ready in 10-12mins the next morning. so the box said.
along with the omelette below, i also cooked the oats. when i turned the heat on, i also added some cinnamon and cardamon to the pot as the oats cooked. after about 10mins i checked and left it to cook for another 3-5mins. (after 10mins it was a little too chewy for me)
once it was cooked, i drizzled some organic honey and toasted coconut.
yum! ok i'm lying. my tastebuds weren't thrilled with the first spoonful, but it definitely has more flavor than regular oats! next time, i'll omit the organic honey though. i think it gave the oats a strange taste.
e loved it though. he finished the whole bowl!

cPe 2008

loaded omelette

it was (yet another) grey and rainy saturday morning that called for sleeping in a bit. so once e and i finally made it out of bed and downstairs into the kitchen, we were both starving. i like sweet things for breakfast, but really, only eggs can fill me up well enough so that i'm only hungry again hours later. and e - he always wants eggs.
so i made an omelette with toast, as well as steel cut oats (please see that post). i must say, this omelette was very good. and add some valentina hot sauce... yum!

loaded omelette
4 eggs - preferably brown, cage-free ;-)
1/2 cup of organic 2% milk
1 shallot, diced
4-5 shiitake mushrooms, diced
handful of diced red peppers
handful of diced green peppers
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 "slices" of laughing cow cheese
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp paprika
kosher salt & pepper

in a small pan (i cheated and used a crepe pan), heat the butter on medium-high. once it has melted, saute the shallots, garlic, mushrooms, and peppers. in a glass bowl, add the eggs and milk and whip it up well. add kosher salt and pepper to taste, as well as the paprika (optional). once the veggies have cooked down, add the eggs to the pan and cook on medium. as the eggs begin to cook, cut up the laughing cow cheese into small cubes and add onto the eggs. flip half of the omelette over, and serve with toast or an english muffin, and a good cup of coffee.
buen provecho!

cPe 2008

the perfect trio

during my recent grocery splurge at mitsuwa, i decided to pick up a pack of 2 wagyu steaks. it was friday afternoon, and i really wanted a good steak with simple sides that wouldn't detract.
last time i was at mistuwa, there were signs everywhere, advertising this wagyu beef. i didn't know much about it then, so i skipped it, but i read up about it a bit recently.
if you want to know what the hype is, please read here and here.

so for this very quick and delicious friday night dinner, i also picked up a bottle of kimchi. i've recently been dreaming of pickled veggies... strange, i know.
i'm sorry, maybe one day i'll make some myself... but for now, the bottled one is fine.
and to go with that... rice. sushi rice.
for the steaks, only sprinkle with some kosher salt and pepper, and drizzle a bit of olive oil on each side prior to grilling. i have a grill pan, which is what i used, but i can only imagine how yummy these steaks would be cooked on a real grill!

cPe 2008

May 02, 2008

roast chicken and potatoes

a whole chicken always scared me. especially looking at it raw. i never wanted to touch it. and roasting a whole one? i don't think so.
well, i didn't think so. until i found the easiest recipe known to mankind. it's no wonder this recipe has so many great reviews. it's so simple and the result is a deliciously moist roast chicken with a salty crispy skin! so the hubby and i gloved ourselves and got ready to prepare the chicken.
i also parboiled potatoes (already cut into serving size) then threw them into the roasting pan half way through the chicken's cooking time. i like to leave my chicken in to roast a bit longer than the recipe calls for, but that's because the skin just gets better and better. :)


My Favorite Simple Roast Chicken - Bouchon, October 2004
Mon Poulet Rôti

one 2-3lb organic chicken
kosher salt & black pepper
2 teaspoons minced thyme (optional)

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Rinse the chicken, then dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. The less it steams, the drier the heat, the better.Salt and pepper the cavity, then truss the bird. Trussing is not difficult, and if you roast chicken often, it's a good technique to feel comfortable with. When you truss a bird, the wings and legs stay close to the body; the ends of the drumsticks cover the top of the breast and keep it from drying out. Trussing helps the chicken to cook evenly, and it also makes for a more beautiful roasted bird.
Now, salt the chicken — I like to rain the salt over the bird so that it has a nice uniform coating that will result in a crisp, salty, flavorful skin (about 1 tablespoon). When it's cooked, you should still be able to make out the salt baked onto the crisp skin. Season to taste with pepper.Place the chicken in a sauté pan or roasting pan and, when the oven is up to temperature, put the chicken in the oven. I leave it alone — I don't baste it, I don't add butter; you can if you wish, but I feel this creates steam, which I don't want.
Roast it until it's done, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove it from the oven and add the thyme, if using, to the pan. Baste the chicken with the juices and thyme and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.

sidenote: i've made this 3 times now, and i haven't trussed the chicken yet. maybe i'll try next time. :)

cPe 2008

a makeshift smore

we were all out of cookies, sweets, biscuits. whatever you want to call it. all out. and i had a major craving for a biscuit with my tea (cookie to the americans).
so i rummaged through the pantry hoping to find at least 1 random biscuit in a hidden box somewhere. there was not one. so i pouted for a minutes, tried to get e to make a target run to get me some, hoping he'd feel sorry for me. he wasn't having it though, since we were both in our pj's and pretty much ready for bed. so he got up and rummaged the pantry.
out came a box of graham crackers, honey pb, and his secret weapon - nutella, as always.
and so began the making of the makeshift snack: sandwich a dollop of peanut butter and nutella between graham crackers and you've got yourself a delicious little smore-wannabe.

thanks e!

sidenote: since this snack was made, e has gotten me 3 boxes of biscuits.. 1 box of english shortbread, and 2 boxes of 'le petite ecolier' :)

cPe 2008

May 01, 2008

coconut rice pudding

while browsing tastespotting yesterday, i came across a recipe for rice pudding. and for the rest of the day, all i could think about was rice pudding. so i started looking for recipes on epicurious, and found a recipe for coconut rice pudding. i randomly had a can of organic coconut milk in my pantry that i've been wanting to use. this was the perfect use.
here's the recipe i used.

coconut rice pudding from gourmet, march 2004
1 1/2 cups cold unsalted cooked rice
3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup well-stirred canned unsweetened coconut milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Simmer rice, milk, coconut milk, sugar, and salt, uncovered, in a 2 1/2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 40 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Serve warm.

my adaptations: i used an entire can of coconut milk (2 cups), and then added 1 cup of organic 2% milk. the only rice i had on hand was basmati - i used that and it worked perfectly. also, i was all out of vanilla extract, so i added 1 tsp of organic honey instead. some cardamon also found its way into the pot because i love the flavor.
and... because i was so impatient, i definitely did not simmer and stir for 40mins. i think i did it for maybe 15mins - but my rice was tender and the liquids had thickened nicely by then.
once it's done you can serve as is, or add some toasted coconut or maybe toasted almonds. i just added a sprinkling of cardamon to the top.

result: this is a delicious rice pudding. it didn't taste like coconut to me... maybe a coconut extract would do the trick. however, it tasted like kheer to me! so delicious!
i stored the leftovers in the fridge, and i can't wait to get a spoonful of the cold rice pudding when i get home!

cPe 2008

karē udon

as mentioned in my previous post, my pantry seems to be empty. i need to do some shopping, i know. on friday i will. anyway, along with the lack of necessaties like cookes for tea (shortbread cookies to be exact), ichiban (my guilty pleasure) and veggies... i am all out of rice! ok i have basmati rice, but you can't eat japanese food with basmati rice. i'm not that desperate yet.

it was a cold, stormy thursday afternoon and i wanted comfort food. so i decided to make japanese curry (kare)... and use the last box of udon noodles. i actually had a pack of katsu-retsu (pork cutlets), so this quick dinner was a done deal. i got out my coating tray set and started setting it all up. i had to defrost the katsu-retsu in the microwave, which i hate to do, but i forgot to take it out of the freezer that morning. at 5:55am when i'm leaving for work my brain is hardly thinking about dinner... it's solely focused on soy chai. anyway! for those of you who love kare, using udon noodles is a nice substitute for rice - thanks closet cooking for the idea! there are 3 parts to this meal, which can all be cooked simultaneously. just make sure not to forget about the boiling noodles and overcook them.

part 1: udon boil udon. done. :)

part 2: kare
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 diced onion
1/2 red pepper, julienned
2 blocks of kare
about 1 and 1/2 cups of water

steps: heat the olive oil in a saucepan and add the onions and red peppers. once the onions have browned, add the water and kare blocks and stir. the sauce will thicken quickly, so stir from time to time to avoid lumps. taste the kare. if it's too strong for you, add more water and let it reduce a bit more. once it's done, simmer on very low heat until part 3 is complete.

part 3: tonkatsu

1 pack of katsu-retsu (approximately 4-5 cutlets)
1 egg, whisked
1/2 cup of flour
1 cup of panko
salt & pepper
2-3 tbsp olive oil

steps: thoroughly rinse and dry the katsu. season with salt & pepper. coat the cutlet in flour, then dip in the egg wash, and finally in the panko bread crumbs. make sure the cutlet is coated fully. slowly fry the coated cutlets in olive oil, on
medium-high. if the coating starts to burn, turn it down to medium. it all depends on your stove.

once everything is done, add a heap of noodles to a bowl, slice the tonkatsu and lay it over the udon. then pour over some kare (i like lots!), and your deliciously comforting dinner is ready!

douzo meshiagare! どうぞめしあがれ !

cPe 2008

tuna melt

my pantry seems to be running bare these days... well, ok - it's not bare, i just can't see anything to use at first glance. on a saturday afternoon when i'm suddenly and instantly starving, i really didn't want to run to the grocery store or to the closest fastfood spot, so i had to resort to searching the pantry.

cannellini beans. all kinds of pasta. coconut milk. udon soup mix. salt & vinegar chips. olive oil. you get the picture.

so while i munched on the salt & vinegar chips, i continued scanning the pantry and found a few cans of tuna. checked the fridge for any kind of cheese at this point, and found mozzerella slices. YES! tuna melt sandwiches will do the trick.

so i turned the oven onto 350 and got to chopping up the green pepper. i know most people add onion to their tuna salad, but i really don't like raw onion taste, so i omitted that completely. and then i used my secret ingredient - wasabi mayonnaise - yum!

this is a very simple lunch to put together, and here are my estimations:

tuna melt
2 cans of tuna (in water, not oil)
1/2 green pepper, diced
kosher salt & pepper
1 tbsp mayo
1 tbsp wasabi mayo
2 slices of mozzerella cheese
some smoked paprika
2 slices of bread (i used whole grain)

turn the oven onto 350ºF. add the tuna into a bowl (completely drain the tuna). chop up the green pepper (and onion if you like) and add that to the bowl. then season to taste with salt and pepper. add the regular mayo and the wasabi mayo and mix it all thoroughly.
spread a good amount of the tuna salad onto two slices of bread, top with the slice of cheese, and sprinkle some paprika on the cheese.
then pop them into the oven for about 10mins, or until the cheese has melted nicely.

serve right out of the oven! - i like my sandwiches open-faced.

cPe 2008

April 24, 2008

peanut butter cheesecake minis

don't we all love paula deen? not only is she the the cutest and sweetest foodnetwork personality, but the food she cooks always looks so good. i was down in charlotte in january, visiting the hubby while on business, and i even mapped out the trip from charlotte to savannah... just to be able to eat at "lady & sons"... well, ok, it would've been a 3hr drive, and we didn't go. so until i find myself down in savannah, i'll continue to drool at her food on tv, and then attempt to make a few things afterwards.
yesterday's show (4.23.2008) entitled "game night appetizers" included hogs in a sleeping bag, etc. but what really caught my eye was what she made for dessert: peanut butter cheesecake minis. yum!

since it was a beautiful spring day in chicago, my sis, hubby and i took a walk to supertarget (my savior) and picked up what was missing from the ingredients list: mini reese's cups, 2 packs of cream cheese and cupcake liners.
i've never made cheesecake before, so i was hoping these mini cheesecakes would give me the courage to try a full-sized one soon!
anyway, here's the recipe, from the foodnetwork:

Peanut Butter Cheese Cake Minis Recipe courtesy Paula Deen
Show: Paula's Home Cooking
Episode: Game Night (Appetizers)

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
4 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
12 bite-size peanut butter cups

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or almond extract
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place a paper cupcake liner in each cup of a standard muffin pan.
To make crust, in a bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter until crumbs are moistened. Press crust into bottom of each muffin cup. Put 1 peanut butter cup into the center of each crust.
Beat cream cheese with a handheld electric mixer until fluffy. Add sugar, flour, and vanilla, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Spoon cream cheese mixture over peanut butter cups and graham cracker crusts. Bake until just set, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely before serving.

> result: my sis and i couldn't wait for them to cool "completely" and tried one within 5mins of it coming out of the oven. yum! but... the cheesecake wasn't sweet enough for me. maybe it's because i used 1/3 fat cream cheese? i don't know.

so i took out some caramel creme sauce, warmed half a cup of it in the microwave until it was pourable... then added a dollop of it onto each mini cheesecake.
that did the trick! the peanut butter cup on the inside is a nice surprise too! :) thanks paula deen!

cPe 2008

scallops and ziti

a fast & easy weekday dinner

while i love almost all seafood, scallops never appealed to me. i prefer things to be savory, or even spicy, but i don't usually like my protein-source to be sweet. i save that for dessert afterwards. so isn't that how they usually describe scallops - as being sweet? anyway, i sucked it up for the sake of my hubby who loves the stuff, and bought a package of 8 scallops at mitsuwa *in case you haven't realized yet, i love that place*
8 scallops for $4 or so. if i ruin them, well, that's only $4 down the drain.
what to do with these scallops was the question. i had never made anything with them before.
> ok, i lied. i attemped "scallops bonne femme and spinach with crispy proscuitto" a la rachel ray's 30min meals. it was a disaster. the sauce was ridiculously rich, scallops were "sauteed" in the sauce... let's just say, we all enjoyed the spinach with crispy prosciutto! i shoulda known better than to follow rachel ray anyway =p aaanyway, i'd like to forget that meal ever happened. so let's do that, ok?

ok, so this time i wanted pasta (don't i always?). my pantry houses about 5 types of different pasta, from wholewheat to spinach to fettucine to tortellini. but there was a bag of ziti staring me in the face and i wanted to use some it.
so! here's my very approximated recipe for scallops & ziti.

for scallops:
a knob of herbed butter
kosher salt

for pasta:
2 cups of ziti (or whatever kind of pasta you like)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp chili flakes
1 cup of grated mozzarella
kosher salt & pepper

in one pot, start boiling water for your pasta and get that going.
in a saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter on medium heat. add the minced garlic to the oil/butter mixture. you can add more or less garlic according to your taste preference. once the garlic is nicely browned, pour the oil mixture into a container to later use with the cooked pasta. (it should make about 1 cup of "sauce")
next, using the same saucepan, add a knob of herbed butter. melt the butter on medium - high heat. lightly season clean and dry scallops with kosher salt and pepper. add the seasoned scallops to the pan and allow them to brown. once they lift off the pan without resistance, they're ready to be flipped over and grilled on the other side.
so - i guess i don't like scallops to be "rare" if you must. so i kept mine going for about 3-5mins on each side until they were nicely firm. i doubt this is the "proper" way to eat them, but it's what i did.
by now, the pasta should be cooked. drain the pasta, then add back into the pot. keeping the heat on medium, add the garlic oil/butter sauce to the pasta and stir so all pasta is coated. if there's not enough sauce, you could always add a bit more olive oil after the fact. once the pasta's coated, add some salt & pepper to taste, then add the chili flakes and grated mozzarella. toss it altogether and what you should have is a lovely, light, garlic-y, cheesy simple pasta dish.

once the pasta is complete, plate it and add the scallops on top of it. i added a bit more crushed black pepper to season (and more chili flakes for my palate).

and there you have it - one easy-peasy weekday dinner. it'll take you about 15-20mins. and it's delicious.
buon appetito!
p.s. i now like scallops. but i can only eat a maximum of 2. :)

cPe 2008

April 18, 2008

jerk pork chops

above: an unphotogenic, yet delicious pork chop

i crave pork chops about once a week. there were 2 weeks in february where i could've had a pork chop everyday.
anyway, after eating too many of them during that month, i hadn't made any in a while but i had these in mind for friday night dinner as i was driving home from work today.

jerk pork chops
1 pack of pork chops
kosher salt & pepper
ancho chili powder
jerk seasoning
olive oil

steps: i have no measurements here because basically you create a "dry rub" for the pork chops. that means you can either throw them all into a big ziploc bag and add enough spices so that when tossed around, all pork chops are coated... or you can just lay them out and dust the spices one by one over all the chops. the ziploc bag trick is nice, but i opted for just laying them out this time. oh, and if you do the ziploc method, you can also add olive oil into the bag, toss again and allow the chops to marinate.
i didn't prepare ahead of time by doing that, so i went the fast way.
coat the bottom of a pan with enough olive oil so that it comes up to about half the thickness of the chop. get that heating at medium-high.
then thoroughly wash and dry the pork chops and lay them out nicely. sprinkle enough kosher salt and pepper. then add the ancho chili powder and jerk seasoning. do this on both sides.
then into the pan they go for about 5-6mins on either side until they're nicely browned and cooked thoroughly.

i served these pork chops with the elotes below, and some garlic bread. yum! hit the spot for sure.

cPe 2008