Saturday, April 12, 2014

Carrot and Daikon Pickle

Carrot and Daikon Pickle
Pickles are my jam. Not just cucumbers, but any vegetable, really. I especially love the pickled radishes and carrots at Vietnamese restaurants, so I was pleased to find this Saveur recipe (short and simple, just the type of recipe I gravitate towards!). I did things a little differently: I am not great at cutting uniform sizes and overlooked "salt" in the wilting stage, so had to sprinkle that in, mix again and wait a bit longer. I also used rice vinegar instead of white. (Sidenote: I did wonder why the recipe mentioned only sugar and no salt, but shrugged it off. Just goes to show, trust your inner voice! And read the directions.)

For more flavor, the veggies probably need to hang out in the fridge for a while. I'm planning on eating them as a snack or a side dish since I need to add more produce to my diet. But, I think they would work well in their "quick pickle" form in a bibimbap or a lettuce wrap. I'm just happy to have found an alternative to bagged salad!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Inari Sushi

I find inari sushi irresistible. Yet, I only eat them at restaurants or buy them pre-made at the Japanese grocery store. As I'm trying to expand my cooking repertoire, I decided it was high time to cross this one off the list. And... it turns out there's not much to it if you work fast and not think at all about making your rice look pretty.

But, you do need to carve out some time to make the steamed rice, start assembling the inari, take a tiny break to wonder why you started this whole endeavor, tell yourself to stop whining and soldier on until finally you have a plate of these stuffed fried tofu pouches (pickled radish are optional, but I love them so, so much). TRULY IMPORTANT: keep re-wetting your hands because otherwise, the rice will get unmanageable.

I bought my fried tofu pouches (with sushi rice seasoning and savory sprinkles of some sort included) at the Korean grocery store, but I did throw in some roasted sesame seeds to "make it my own." For my next inari experiment, I am thinking about adding something a little extra to the rice, such as kimchi, shiitake mushrooms or even cheese (okay, that last one could be going too far, but I'm probably going to do it anyway).

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Fried Egg with Kale

fried egg with kale
This egg was going to be photographed sunny-side up, but then the yolk looked weird and I was like, whatever, I'm going to flip it over and just take the picture. Perfection is relative. Let's move on.

I got it into my head that a gooey fried egg would be pretty tasty on top of a mound of kale. After trying it, I can say I was about 85% right. I cooked the kale on the stove with broth, so there was a little too much juice on the plate. Next time, I will try a roasted something for the base (cauliflower? Brussels sprouts?). I like a good kale salad as much as the next person, but I adore braised kale. Here's my quick version:

-Chop as much garlic as you want. Heat olive oil in a pot over low to medium heat; give it a few seconds to warm up before throwing in the garlic.

-Once the garlic is sizzling, add kale (I tore it up by hand because kale gets everywhere when you chop it) and toss it around, making sure to get the garlic up from the bottom of the pot.

-After the kale has wilted down, add enough vegetable or chicken broth to cover (I happened to use chicken this time) and raise the heat to bring to a boil. Then, drop the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until the bitterness is gone. If you have the time, keep simmering until you're happy with it. I generally like to eat as soon as possible!

-Add seasoned salt and pepper to taste after the kale is done (the broth can add a good amount of salt, so do a taste test to see what is needed). Regular salt is fine, too, but I am on a crusade to use up my spices! I have a lot of seasoned salt to go.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Warm Herb and Jam Goat Cheese Spread

warm herb jam & goat cheese spread

When I saw Joy the Baker's Warm Herb and Jam Goat Cheese Spread recipe, I was immediately intrigued by the flavors. It sounded like a fresh take on the cheese spread and I didn't want to forget about it. So, I put it at the top of my mental to-do list and boy, am I glad I carried through with it. It is fantastic for two reasons: the flavor combination is superb and it can be thrown together in two shakes of a lamb's tail (how delightful to have the chance to use that phrase).

I used cherry fruit spread with rosemary and thyme and it was a very pretty, very festive home run. The genius of it is that it takes all the flavors normally seen on a (goat) cheese plate and puts them in one bite. Also, perhaps even more exciting for all the hosts and hostesses out there, it's just one dish and one spoon for serving! Thank you to Joy for this game changer!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Miscellany of Berlin Food

As a traveler, the food of a place is very important to me. A lot of times, everything else is the backdrop or the stuff I do until it's time to eat again. Here is the roundup of the other things I ate in Berlin:

kamps backstube cheese pretzel
A glorious cheese pretzel from Kamps Backstube, which was an extra welcoming sight after a very jet-lagged night.

dom curry currywurst
Currywurst is a local dish of "wurst" with curry powder. I've had currywurst before and thought it was fine, but I liked it more in Germany eaten at Dom Curry. When in Berlin.

German Coke
Obligatory photo of soda in a different country.

brauhaus lemke bratwurst
This meal of bratwurst took place after a quick visit to the Schloss Charlottenburg. I was fading quickly and had to skip the gardens to make a beeline for food. Thank you, Brauhaus Lemke.

This post concludes the Berlin series. I hope you've enjoyed reading about my travel eats; I would love to visit the other German cities (and eat their food) at some point. Usually when traveling, I'm already thinking about my next big trip (I am constantly trying to live more in the moment, I will get there). This time, I was relieved to be home and settle in before the holidays. November and December are my favorite months of the year, but we can probably agree that we all need a break between the end of sweaty summer and the peppermint bark and eggnog latte-fueled holiday cheer phase! That's basically what it feels like out here in southern California, at least.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Cafe Einstein Stammhaus (Berlin)

Researching food destinations for travel can become overwhelming very quickly. I always start big and whittle down. Past experience has shown me that I don't want to be too ambitious because a) there will be a time (if not more than once) when I cannot bear the thought of another subway ride and subsequent walk of x number of blocks just to try some ____ when I'm nowhere near peckish, and b) I need to leave room for the unplanned (you can't imagine how delighted I was when I came across a grocery store during a long walk in Berlin. Oh, the snacks and dairy section!). But, I always have a list to provide direction and two of my Berlin must-try dishes were Wiener schnitzel and apfelstrudel. So, I headed to Cafe Einstein Stammhaus, a Viennese coffeehouse in the Tiergarten area.

cafe einstein wiener schnitzel
Wiener Schnitzel with potatoes, cucumber salad and lingonberry jam (the English menu says cranberry, but I think it was lingonberry). Ladies and gentlemen, what you see here is the small portion. The jam was fantastic with the richness of the schnitzel; add a bite of the cucumbers and it was a symphony.

cafe einstein cucumber salad
Loved this cucumber salad. It was so simple, but the flavors were perfectly balanced. I enjoyed everything I tried, but these cucumbers with dill made such an impression on me. I also happen to love cucumbers.

cafe einstein apfelstrudel
Apfelstrudel with vanilla sauce. We meet at last! A refined dessert with lots of apple filling; I was happy to try this classic, but I was very full by this point.

I didn't take any interior photos because the place was pretty packed, but it's just so lovely. Think of a European cafe, a bit worn in, but with a lot of elegance and gorgeous light coming in from the windows. Just the kind of place where I imagine serious writers discussing broken hearts and the state of politics. You would be correct in guessing that I was in heaven lingering over my meal; a pretty magical experience for me.

Cafe Einstein Stammhaus
Kürfürstenstraße 58
10785 Berlin
Phone: +49 30 263 91 918

Monday, October 28, 2013

Augustiner am Gendarmenmarkt (Berlin)

I went to Berlin recently and it was my first time in Germany (finally)! The weather was a bit chilly and perfect for lots of eating and wandering throughout the city. I'm not the type of traveler who plans to visit every notable landmark and sight; instead, I try to go for a blend of touristy activities and local life. Also, obviously, eating good food is a big part of travel for me.

Although Berlin has many different cuisines and restaurants, I wanted to have the traditional German and Austrian food experience. So, I ended up eating a lot of meat and potatoes (probably 3-4 times the amount I eat in a given week). But, I was in Germany! First up, in the Mitte area, is Augustiner am Gendarmenmarkt, where I ate twice:

augustiner pork knuckle
Crispy knuckle of pork. Holy smokes. It was no ordinary feat eating this hunk of meat, which was encased in a layer of skin with hot steaming pork inside. The most memorable dish of my trip.

augustiner potato soup
Yes. This. Potato soup Berlin style with Wiener sausage. I adore (seemingly) simple dishes that hit that rare level of perfection and this soup was one of those cases.

augustiner spätzle
I had to try some spätzle! Hearty comfort food. I'm sure it goes well with pork, but at that point, I had met my limit of meat consumption and wanted something "lighter." In the form of a huge plate of spätzle.

I was looking for old school German food and found it in spades at Augustiner. I saw tourists at nearby tables, but it seemed like there were some locals as well. As you may have guessed, it's the kind of place that is excellent at fortifying you to face the cold evening air, which came in handy.

Augustiner am Gendarmenmarkt
Charlottenstraße 55
10117 Berlin
Phone: 030/20 45 40 20