Sunday, April 7, 2013

Ham Fried Rice

FriedRice01 003

My family made a ham for Easter.  After a couple days of fried ham and ham sandwiches we were about done.  My mother kept telling me to make fried rice, so I did.  Then she asked why I was making fried rice.


So I decided to make a batch to share with friends.  It's a great dish to use up leftover meat and vegetables.  I searched the food sites for a few recipes but wound up doing my own thing.  Partially inspired by Jean George's ginger fried rice, I took what should be a quick dinner and broke it down into multiple steps, first crisping up finely diced ginger and garlic in oil, then browning the leftover chopped up ham with a small diced onion and frozen peas, and setting them all aside before adding back to the rice and scrambled eggs.

Not having a full time job at the moment, I have the luxury of time to cook a dish that takes all day, and even it doesn't, it has been therapeutic to take a simple dish and focus on preparing each ingredient to bring out as much flavor as possible.  Browning any of the ingredients definitely helps.  I'd like to think that's sort of French of me.

Monday, April 1, 2013


Madelines 001

I actually made these for Valentine's Day, which shows how behind I am!  I believe, like Alton Brown, that you shouldn't purchase anything for the kitchen that is "single purpose."  Like a garlic press.  Use a knife, people!  (My dream knife - Global chef's Knife, 10" (Google Affiliate Ad)). But to make madeleines, you need a madeline pan (Kaiser Classic Nonstick Madeleine Pan (Google Affiliate Ad), or else they are just mini pound cakes.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  But then they're not madeleines.

The packaging for the pan had a recipe on the back for the little cakes, but I was skeptical.  Who tested it?  I found a few recipes on the Food Network site, and was tempted to choose the easiest one.  But felt for my first time (and Valentine's Day), I should make them right.  So Julia Child it is.  I used the recipe as it was posted from the blog hungry sofia.

I liked not having to use a mixer (too many pieces to wash).  A wooden spoon will do.  And it's good exercise.  There are a few more steps than just tossing everything into a bowl and stirring, but it wouldn't be French if it was haphazard like that.  Browning the butter and adding lemon zest are two things I think are necessary to make them extra special.  They baked with their signature little "hump" on top, and the edges browned nicely.  Not bad, for my first try.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Bacon Deviled Eggs

Come on.  Just read the title and you know this has to be good.  Unless you have some bizarre hatred of eggs.  Or can't eat bacon.  I'm not a big mayo fan - I've seen too many gloppy mayo-laden potato salads or this newish trend at Chinese banquets - fruit salad with lobster and mayo.  Like really.  Why would you do that?  But you can't make deviled eggs without mayo.  And this recipe from Bon Apetit doesn't go overboard.  I made these for Christmas and the past weekend for the Superbowl, and didn't get any complaints.  The dijon mustard gives them a tangy sweetness, the bacon fat a smooth richness and I added some cayenne or hot paprika for heat.  Not your everyday bacon and eggs.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Best. Burger. Ever.

Of course, the healthy eating resolution went right out the window the next day when we wanted burgers.  I've made fancy asian-style chicken burgers and italian-style turkey burgers, but never really perfected the classic beef burger. For a dish that is seemingly so simple, it was always something I'd order outside.  I think, besides good ingredients, it's much more about the technique than the crazy toppings all these new places are advertising.  It feels like every other week there's a new burger joint opening in my neighborhood - all claiming to be the best and "most famous."  But I think the best may be this one from Julia Child.  

The key is sautéing shallots in a little butter and mixing that into the ground beef.  For condiments, we kept it simple with American cheese (2 slices), pickles and some more of that whole grain mustard I'm growing very fond of.  And I mustn't forget to mention the potato rolls.  YUM.

Monday, January 21, 2013

A New Year

I'm ashamed at how long it's been since I've updated.  The last year was full of events that required more of my attention that I normally would have spent experimenting with recipes and exotic ingredients.  But this year has been off to a good start, in more ways than one.  New inspiration to cook new things, a new someone to share them with. M says food isn't sold for the single person.  Which is true, unless you count frozen food.  The good thing about buying fish is you can get just the amount you need.  To start the year off right with an attempt at healthy eating, I bought salmon for the first time at the local international supermarket.  Served over a bed of quinoa and bok choy, it sure beat Celeste pizza for one.

The salmon was almost ridiculously easy.  For two, I bought 3/4lb fresh salmon.  Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.  Then make small cuts throughout the fish and insert thin slices of garlic.  Spread a good whole grain mustard over the top and drizzle with olive oil.  Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for about 15-20 minutes until the center is opaque.

3/4 lb salmon
salt and pepper to taste
lemon juice
2 cloves or garlic
whole grain mustard
olive oil

Friday, December 16, 2011

Comfort Food


I've been bad. It's been almost two months and I've done enough cooking to fill up an entry each day. Something my friends and I have been noticing, is that Christmas commercials have started earlier and earlier each year. I think the first one I saw was out before Halloween. Not that I don't like Christmas, it's always been a special holiday for me, though as I get older it's more bittersweet than the sheer joy it was when I was a kid. But by the time Christmas comes around and you've been watching the layaway commercials since mid-October and hearing music in the stores since before Thanksgiving, you're just sick of it. And that's wrong. So this year, I decided to embrace the long holiday season, which has led to me being so busy cooking and baking I haven't had the energy to post. I baked and brined my first turkey. (Pictures to come). I've made dozens and dozens of cookies and still dozens more to go. But what I'm going to leave you with are two comfort foods I've managed to successfully recreate, despite my fear of attempting Chinese cuisine. Just to give you a break from all the Christmas cheer.


The first is chee cheong fun. Thin wide rice noodles rolled up, steamed and so delicious with a hoisin/peanut sauce, tabasco and sesame seeds on top. A memory from my childhood, where for $1 you would go to a tiny food cart in Chinatown and get a little styrofoam box full of these noodles. These carts seem to have disappeared, but you can still by the noodles plain to flavor yourself. But I wanted to see if I could make them from scratch.

The second are soy sauce eggs. Basically hard boil eggs, remove the shells, and simmer submerged in a broth of lots of light soy, dark soy, brown sugar and slices of ginger. You will never think of a hard boiled egg the same way.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Gougères (Cheese Puffs)


Cheese puffs. Need I say more? Okay, maybe a little. I've been wanting to make pate a choux for awhile. It's a versatile dough that can be used for savory or sweet treats (cream puffs anyone?) I prefer savory, and had some gruyere in the fridge and made my version of David Lebovitz's gougères. I made mine about the size of a donut munchkin, so I ended up with half the batch than his recipe, and within a few minutes out of the oven, they were almost gone.