Archive for July, 2009

Beet & Goat Cheese Salad

Popped by Whole Foods and got $16 worth of mixed greens, miso ginger dressing, cheese (which was $8 out of the total…) and BEETS. Yes, scraggly roots and clumped dirt and all! Washed and cut off the ends, wrapped one up in aluminium foil and roasted on 325 for an hour. Sliced and spread over greens, crumbled on some Bucheron goat cheese, added dressing (sparingly), then OMNOMNOM.

Couldn’t help feeling like Dwight Schrute while I was preparing the beets and getting its bloody magenta juices all over my hands. Yum.

From http://machiavelie.tumblr.com


Read Full Post »

Poached eggs

Saturday brunch: Poached eggs

My first successful attempt at poached eggs! In the past, I ended up with watery egg drop soup, minus the MSG and cornstarch. Added more vinegar than usual (sushi vinegar instead of white, but it was fine), and poured the eggs in from a bowl rather than plop them in from the cracked shell. A bit over-cooked, but pretty decent.

Slid them onto a bed of mixed greens and crumbled goat cheese (note to self: not goat cheese next time), grated some Robusto on (any nutty hard/ gouda like cheese will work, just don’t go for the goat…), salt and pepper to taste. I also added a dollop of dijon and a leftover wedge of the Robusto:

Maybe I’ll be ballsy enough to make a real hollandaise sauce next time for my runnier poached eggs (I loooove runny eggs); emulsions are just so finicky for my brash cooking style, though (I’m an eyeballer).

From: http://machiavelie.tumblr.com

Read Full Post »

Asparagus and Fried Plantains (Yeah I eat like a pregnant woman)

I cannot FOR THE LIFE OF ME find artichokes in Queens. Pork blood and chayote squash, however, are here in abundance. Spent all of Sunday wandering JAckson Heights looking for a market that sold those spiky buggers, but to no avail. But the longer and more futile my search became, the more I craved and became fixated on that droll but elusive vegetable. In the end, I settled for asparagus (also green, reminds me of armadillos, and a thing-white-people-like) and plantains, which are ALL OVER THE PLACE.

Usual boil, toss with olive oil, garlic, and grated Robusto (a hard block of gouda goes a long way!)

I fried the plantains in good ol’ canola, drained, and seasoned with salt and cayenne pepper. These were a bit dry andstarchy for me, but because the plantain was too unripe. To get htem as gooey and sweet as I like, I should have gotten the totally ripe black ones. These were yellow with black splotches.

From http://machiavelie.tumblr.com

Read Full Post »

Stuffed Artichoke (yes, just one, for me)

What you need:

– Artichoke(s), lemon, bay leaves, italian sausage, garlic, parmesan, parsley, bread crumbs, onions

Prepping artichokes:
Cut off the stem and take off inedible leaves at the bottom. Snip off tips off leaves or cut the top 1/3. Rub lemon on the cut places to keep them from browning (same goes for when you cut open an avocado, you know?). Put your artichokes into a pot of water and steam it; add garlic, bay leaves, lemons, whatever your little heart desires, into the water to get some flavor. Steam for 20 min.

While steaming, prepare the filling:
Chop up Italian sausage, onion, garlic powder, add freshly chopped parsley, salt and pepper. Mix it up, add in bread crumbs and grated Parmesan. I didn’t add bread crumbs this time, and it came out a bit saltier than I’d like.

Now that you have your filling and done steaming: take your steamed artichokes out and put them upside down on a cooling rack with towels to drain. When they cool down enough to handle, spread the leaves apart to expose the chokes. Scoop out the center with a spoon (the fuzzy crap) until you hit the heart. You should have little artichoke bowls now, just like this:

Now just stuff the filling into your artichokes, including in-between the leaves. Bake on 400 for 15 min or until brown. It’s all cooked anyway, so this is more to get the filling to melt and be yummy. Voila! The juices from the filling will seep into the artichoke while you muncha away through the layers.

From: http://machiavelie.tumblr.com

Read Full Post »

mmmm mama

Originally uploaded by curious gorge

Ramen is, needless to say, almost as big a part of the broke college student’s diet as cheap vodka (Popov ftw!). I’m extremely partial to this form of MSG delivery (hey, it’s arguably one of the most important food groups in the Asian diet, alongside rice and soysauce), and although I would normally choose having to watch Rush Limbaugh getting it on with Bill O’Reilly than subject myself to any form of nationalism, this is one area where I proudly take up the flag of the motherland.

That’s right – I am a proud Instant Noodle Nationalist, and here is what I have to say: Thai instant noodle is THE BEST IN THE WORLD. With myriads of flavours to choose from, ranging from mild pork soup to blazing hot Tom Yum Koong to dry and herby Pad Kee Mao (aka drunken noodles), you can invoke the taste of real Thailand (the street food eating, market shopping, smog breathing Thailand) in 3 minutes flat.

My poison of choice happens to be the most classic, enduring and popular ramen of them all: Mama Tom Yum Koong (Just as cola connoisseurs would adamantly insist that there is a difference between coke and pepsi, I would also like to stress that Mama’s Tom Yum Koong is different – and superior to – all other brand’s). Based off of one of Thailand’s best known dish, this baby packs flavour – and heat – like no other. Really, it’s the best 3-minute cure for any ailments from colds to nausea to nostalgia I know.

Although it is good plain, this bowl of noodles can very easily be dressed up to add variety and nutritional value. Usually, I just add an egg at the end just to be able to say, look! it’s real food! But it’s seriously good with savoury pork balls, basil, mushrooms added as well.

It’s pretty self-explanatory, but here’s a quick guide:

Open a pack of Mama and pour the flavourings into a bowl (don’t use the whole thing if you’re not sure whether you can handle the heat. Just start with half of each packet – you can always add more later) Chop up some mushrooms, pick some fresh basil leaves, knead some soy sauce, sake and ground black peppers into some ground pork, and bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Once the water is boiling, drop the ground pork into the water in one inch balls, then add the mushrooms (I usually crack an egg into the pot at this point too. Wait until everything is nearly cooked through, then add the noodles, and let cook (should take less than 3 minutes). Ladle everything into the bowl over the chili powder and paste.


Read Full Post »

It’s been about a week since I’ve started this new non-HFCS diet and I’m finding the results to be quite interesting. A lot of foods that I would have suspected to be sweetened with corn syrup, like salad dressings and even Hostess mini muffins, lack the sticky substance, while other items, like Stove Top Stuffing, Miracle Whip, and every cereal I grew up on list HFCS as one of its main ingredients. It seems that the best way to navigate a non corn syrup diet isn’t by food types but by brands (I’m speaking of course about processed foods). The vilification of HFCS has caused a lot of brands to switch out the ingredient or to proudly advertise its absence (see the recent promotions by Pepsi and Coke and their substitution for real sugar).

I suppose the easiest way to avoid corn syrup is to eat completely organic and buy all my food from Whole Foods. But let’s be honest–I’m a college student on a modest income. For the most part, I’ll choose generic to save that extra $.39 cents (but not on key ingredients like vanilla, cheese, and chocolate). I’m not going to pay an extra 20% to make things easy. We’re doing this the right way–processed foods and all!

I found a list of items that have HFCS. It’s fairly old but gives you a glimpse to how prevalent it is in foods.


Something to note: high fructose corn syrup is in Robitussin. Lets hope I don’t get sick.

Read Full Post »

Oh, Thailand. What a strange little place. Home of cheap whores, cheap booze, cheap fun, cheap food and cheaper tourists. Home sweet home.

Being the foodie and glutton that I am, my nostalgia takes on a very peculiar culinary twist. Instead of thinking of people and places, I start salivating over memories of food – the softness and warmth of a ball of black sticky rice, the kick of the tiny prik kee noo chilis after a fork full of som tam, the potent pungency of kapi shrimp paste in my beloved spicy green mango salad. Home, for me, is where the stomach is. And the stomach is most at home in the kitchen of one’s childhood.

And nothing captures the mind – and stomach – of Thailand’s prodigal sons and daughters quite like a still-sizzling Thai-style omelet served on a steaming plate of rice. Why, it had even inspired many an ode, including this classic musical number by the famous Chaleang band:

It is the dish that 99.9% of Thais grew up on. It is the go-to item for when you don’t know what to eat, and the thing you order at the corner kao kaeng (literally, rice and curry) street hawker (much to the chagrin of old auntie food seller) after a good ten minutes of contemplation yielded naught. It is what I make myself when I am feeling particularly nostalgic. It is, in essence, the quintessential Thai comfort food.

A basic Kai Jeaw, or Thai omelet (Kai means egg, and Jeaw is the act of frying something in lots of hot oil), consists only of eggs, beaten until light and fluffy, (and usually a little fish sauce or soy sauce) fried in a pan or wok full of hot, hot oil. And as with any basic recipe, just about everyone has their own variation on the theme: some like theirs extra crispy, some add tomatoes and other veggies to the eggs, and some prefer it served with Sriracha hot sauce (the Thai kind, which, unlike its Vietnamese American counterpart, is a sweet-ish, smooth orange sauce, not a puree). One of the most common variations, however, is Kai Jeaw Moo Sub, or Kai Jeaw with ground pork. This is, by far, my favourite, since the pork adds a certain tenderness and meatiness to the eggs. Without further ado, I present to you my take on this childhood favourite.

Kai Jeaw Moo Sub

serves one

2 eggs
1-2 tsp fish sauce or soy sauce (I will probably get massacred by Thai food hardliners for this, but in most cases, I use the two interchangeably)
1/2 cup ground pork (I marinated mine in soysauce, sake, ground peppers and dried chili flakes, but this is not necessary)
a handful of fresh basil leaves
2 tsp water
vegetable oil
patience and self restraint

a plate of steamed rice

how we do
To make sure that the oil is hot enough and to save time, set up your pan first. Fill your pan or wok up with oil (normal pans work just fine – just make sure it’s big enough). I don’t care if you’re using a nonstick pan – fill that baby up. There needs to be at least 1/2 inch of oil at the bottom of your pan. Turn the heat up all the way.

Next, crack your eggs into a bowl that’s big enough to withstand heavy beating (i.e. the bowl should be less than half filled with the eggs). Add water (water helps make the eggs fluffy) and soy sauce or fish sauce (add more or less than recommended, to taste). With a fork, beat the eggs up. Go at it. No mercy. It’s very cathartic – another reason why this is an excellent comfort food. To get maximum air incorporated into the eggs, tilt the bowl a towards yourself and your fork hand, set your fork horizontally, facing 45 degrees away from you, and beat using a fast, circular motion that lifts the egg mixture in the air… like mini tsunamis. Keep on going until the entire surface is frothy and pale. Add the ground pork and basil leaves, then beat some more to make evenly distribute the meat.

Now, check whether your pan is hot enough by dropping a tiny bit of the egg mixture (i.e. from the tip of your fork) into the pan. If the droplet sizzles and puffs up immediately, then you are good to go. If not, wait. Oil that’s not hot enough will result in soggy, greasy, yucky kai jeaw. yeuch. When the pan is good and ready, pour the egg mixture into the centre of the pan from as high as you can manage. The height adds even more air into the mix, making your eggs extra crispy and fluffy. Wusses do not good Thai cooks make. Now wait. if you feel the need to prod and probe your eggs, don’t. Just don’t. Meddling with your eggs prematurely (for example, by throwing oil into the centre to help it cook faster) will result in greasy, oily kai jeaw, much in the same way that peaking will scare away the tooth fairy and lose you your reward… or something.

Once the edges are all crisp and golden brown and most of the egg mixture is nice and firm, wriggle your spatula as far under the omelet as you can, and with one swift, decisive motion, flip the mo’ fo’. Let cook for another 10 seconds or so (again, no touchy!), then lift out of the pan and onto the waiting plate of steaming rice (or, you know, just a plate. to each his own).

Now, your choice of condiment is pretty broad. Some people like their kai jeaw with Sriracha hot sauce, as mentioned above, and some with ketchup, even. I like mine the country way, with nam pla prik, or fish sauce with chilis. You can make this really simply by adding some chopped chilis (the smaller, the spicier) and a splash of fresh lime juice (usually from one lime wedge) to a bowl of fish sauce (adjust proportions to taste). Or, if you, like me, have none of those things, then soy sauce, chili flakes and a splash of bottled lime/lemon juice work just fine.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »