Monday, October 27, 2014

Clams with Garlic & Lemon

clams with garlic and lemon
I love clams. But, it's all about timing. They get too chewy if overcooked, losing their "je ne sais quoi" and resulting in abject disappointment for the eater. One way to avoid such a scenario is to make them yourself! At home! Once your clams are clean, the cooking phase is very quick. BTW, there are many different takes on how to get your clams grit-free. Choose whichever one suits your schedule; I soaked mine in cold water in the fridge for about 20 minutes. Now, on to the cooking steps:

Saute some chopped garlic, throw the clams in and pour white wine on top of them (add a little salt if you want, but they probably don't need it). Add lemon juice now and/or later when serving. Place a lid on the pot, wait for everything to bubble and the clams to open. Take one out to see if it's cooked enough and then turn the heat off. The only thing left to do is eat and cherish the moment.

One ingredient that was missing from my preparation: butter, which will be included next time because the broth needed some depth and richness. Can't wait to eat clams again! (Parting note: most people insist on bread to mop up the broth and they are totally right. I didn't buy any this time, so chose to drink it straight from the bowl.)

Sunday, October 12, 2014


I grew up eating persimmons, but thought it was an Asian thing. So, I am pretty pumped that they seem to be more mainstream now with recipes popping up everywhere; just look at Food 52's Your Best Persimmons contest! These little guys are Fuyu persimmons and I love them. Just so cute and cheery! Although, persimmons are a little more serious than other cute and cheery fruit (like Rainier cherries) because they herald the beginning of autumn, which I think of as the season of gravitas.

Winter is like a whole other thing because it has the emotions of the holidays and, depending on where you are, an enduring wait for spring/light at the end of the tunnel feel to it. I don't hear as much "when is it going to be over?!?!" exclamations about autumn. But, to give winter its due, it's the more "complicated" season (maybe that's a backhanded compliment).

Anyway, if you see persimmons and have never tried them, I encourage you to give them a whirl. It's difficult to explain what they taste like, it'll be easier if you just go for it. Unless you dislike most fruit, in which case, I don't know what to tell you.

And lastly, here's some delightful stuff I've seen online lately:

-Jolly Ranger Vodka from A Beautiful Mess! Sounds like a partayyy.

-3 Everyday Eyeliner Shapes from Cupcakes and Cashmere. I've been wanting to try a cat eye and these tips look very helpful.

-An articles club from A Cup of Jo. Love this idea, mostly because I am that person who is always telling you about this article or that op-ed someone wrote. I'd imagine it's more fun and a longer conversation (ha) if you discuss with friends who have also read it.

Happy Sunday!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Huevos a la Mexicana

huevos a la mexicana

Sometimes, I choose a recipe because it looks easy and the ingredients list is fairly short (okay, on most occasions, this approach is how I decide what to cook). When I was looking for something new to make for breakfast, this Huevos a la Mexicana recipe from Simply Recipes spoke to me (like, eggs? I know how to crack eggs. Tomatoes? We have great tomatoes here! And so on and so forth). I made a couple ingredient changes: instead of green onions and jalapeno, I used half a yellow onion and canned green chiles.

Well, I was floored by how good these turned out! I am so happy I made this dish!!! Don't think I've been this excited about eggs in a long time, not exaggerating. This thing was so good. I highly recommend it for a weekday breakfast when a packaged granola bar just won't cut it or a friend brunch gathering that needs some pizzazz; it will be a surefire hit. I'm definitely adding this one to my repertoire.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Pears & Cheese

pears and cheese

I usually take forever to pick cheese at the store. For sandwiches, it is not a labored process. Easy peasy. But, when I am looking for snack cheese, the beguiling wedges of domestic and imported alike can throw me into a loop of indecision. Sometimes, I even abandon the quest. But, this time, I persevered and emerged with something called Uniekaas Robusto, which is firm and nutty. Try it with pears or really, anything you like. This cheese is legit.

Other stuff I've been doing aside from looking intently at cheese:

-reading The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta. Real good.

-watched my first TED talk by Mac Barnett! I get it now, guys.

-resisting the urge to follow too many pet Instagram accounts. I don't know why, everyone needs some cute in their lives (perhaps my daily quota is higher than others). I will probably get over it. Here's one of my favorite dogs.

Happy weekend!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Pan-Fried Shrimp with Cherry Tomato Corn Salad

shrimp with tomato corn salad
Note to Summer: please stay. I am not ready to face the last months of the year. Let me luxuriate in the long days, pink sunsets and artisan ice cream a bit longer. I realize my tune has changed as I used to dread your high temps, seeking out air-conditioning like it was a life force. But this year, it feels different. I am different. So, please stay.

Based on what I've learned over time, this request will go unheard. So, I will take solace in the fact that a lot of nectarines, plums and peaches were consumed this summer. And I got to make this festive dish of pan-fried shrimp and a cherry tomato, corn and red onion salad. I am always amazed at how much flavor comes out of letting veggies or salads sit around in some lemon juice and olive oil. When in doubt, reach for the lemon and olive oil. You will get super results about 98%-100% of the time. You cannot say that for most things in life.

Happy long weekend!

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 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!

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.