Sunday, July 13, 2014

Strawberry & Blue Cheese Spinach Salad

strawberry blue cheese & spinach salad

This spinach salad is an excellent example of something I like to make at home mainly because I can control the size of the blue cheese crumbles. Also, this salad needs strawberries of high caliber and I knew the strawberries I had on hand would fit the bill nicely. In a restaurant, I usually just hope for the best with fruit quality. Most of the time, it's passable, but not anything that could be classified as good.

The only component that requires some attention is the balsamic vinaigrette; my version is a bit of Dijon mustard, honey, balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper whisked together furiously with a fork until emulsified (meaning everything has combined and the olive oil isn't a separate layer on top). A whisk probably works better, but I just use a fork.

If you want to get cute, you could throw in blueberries instead and call it a "blue" spinach salad. Just a thought!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Caviar + Crackers

caviar with crackers
I have been thinking of caviar and crackers for some time now, but could never commit to buying any of those tiny jars. But, finally the caviar-at-home dream has come true! Not an everyday thing for me, but salmon caviar is one of the more affordable types out there and a little goes a long way. Admittedly, I went overboard when spooning out the caviar, but I have never been one to shy away from salt. I added cream cheese to the mix and would recommend it highly because not only does it work well with the caviar, you will have a very good reason to stock up on bagels. Let's hear it for occasional splurges!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Japan - Part 2

Let's continue with the delectables from Japan! The ramen below was from a shop that had a vending ticket machine outside where you pay before entering and handing them your ticket. Interesting note: I only had ramen once while in Japan, but eat it quite often in daily life. Additional note: I am starting this post talking about vending machines again, although of a different variety.

japan ramen

Yakitori had to happen and what you see here is grilled cheese mochi.

japan grilled cheese mochi

A bit rich, but as I look at this picture, I want to have it again. And again. We had a bunch of other stuff, but I was very drawn to the mochi (it IS one of the best food items ever and I hadn't encountered such a skewer before).

Of course, more desserts to share! Here is a wafer cookie holding red beans, green tea ice cream and... you got it, mochi!! Not entirely sure if these qualify as mochi or if I should just call them sweet, chewy rice cake things, but either way, this dessert was totally wonderful.

japan red bean green tea ice cream

By the way, the red beans are remarkably good in Japan. Beans are beautiful in sweet and savory forms, end of story.

And lastly, doesn't everyone love a roll cake? Especially as pretty as this one?

japan roll cake

That's all for Japan! Parting thoughts: when traveling and in life, not every little delicious thing is photogenic. But, getting a good photo wasn't difficult in Japan because so many of the dishes were presented beautifully.

For a few more food photos from the trip, please check my Instagram!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Japan - Part 1

Hello! Exciting travel news: I got to visit Japan!!! We stayed in the Kansai region, which is home to cities like Osaka, Kyoto and Nara. Unsurprisingly, walking around Japan felt like being in another world... one with so many vending machines! Really, I could not get over it. It must be so convenient, although I imagine a couple hundred yen here and there on your commute could add up quickly. It was a really major trip and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the sights, many of which were straight from magazines, the movies and the Japan of my mind. I basked in it all and will always treasure those moments.

Here's the first installment of food photos:

japan soba & tempura
Cold soba, one of my all-time favorites, with tempura. We had a lot of meals set in front us in trays with little dishes; it was pretty delightful. Note the pink stems on the sprouts!

japan salmon roe
Such beauties at the fish market. Another all-time favorite: salmon roe!

japan fish market
More fish market goodies. Practically anything your sushi-lovin' heart desires.

japan bakery
And the fine, beautiful desserts! Perfectly balanced flavors and so light and lovely without being too sweet. I didn't get a picture, but I also LOVED the "softcream" ice cream cones there. Seriously irresistible, I'm still dreaming about them.

Stay tuned for Part 2! More food to come.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Spaghetti with Bok Choy

bok choy pasta

Here's what happened: I was in the mood for lots of garlic, crushed red pepper and olive oil with spaghetti (otherwise known as aglio e olio, but if I'm being honest, I never think of that entire phrase in my head when I'm putting the dish together) and some bok choy was sitting around solemnly waiting to be forgotten. As home cooks like to do, I asked myself "why not?" and threw some shredded bok choy in with the pasta (this step was done a few minutes before the pasta was done). I am happy to report that it worked out! The bok choy didn't add a ton of flavor, but it brightened things up visually and the spaghetti pairing was an unusual way for me to enjoy it. I may end up doing the exact same thing with the rest of the bok choy; it's just so simple yet delicious.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

London

london bigben
I have wanted to visit London for a long time (my whole life, possibly). A steady diet of Jane Austen, "Love Actually," and BBC shows will do that to a girl. So, I was beyond thrilled that I finally made it over there! It was wonderful to take in the immense history, the gorgeous parks and all that tea. As an American, I will admit that England has a magical quality to me, so I took great delight in the small, ordinary things. Case in point: eating crisps in a pub, which is something I've seen British TV detectives do after a long day at the office (also, calling bagged chips "crisps" was a small thrill). Here is a collection of my London eats:

london englishbreakfast
A full English breakfast was a major to-do item on my list. Beans on toast!

london scone
Lovely scone with clotted cream and jam at afternoon tea. The allure of clotted cream is completely deserved.

london lassi
Mango lassi at Dishoom, a very busy, modern Indian restaurant. The ruby chicken curry below was excellent.

london curry

london fishandchips
My favorite version of fish and chips was at Kerbisher & Malt. These fish nuggets were notable because of the batter. Not at all soggy! Plus, the shop design is super cute.

london chickenpie
And lastly, a very good chicken pie with a beautiful crust, which revealed to me that I had never had a proper savory/savoury pie until this trip.

Since this was my first trip to London, I was interested in trying a lot of "traditional" fare. But, next time around, I would love to have more ethnic food as well as visit some of the current/hip darlings of the restaurant scene.


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!