28 February 2007

What kind of crab?

Only the best kind of crab! She crab!

I splurged a little the last time I went to the market (as a result of the therapy shopping I was doing this past weekend). Ben's deprived me of having dinner with him everyday (and, thus, also depriving me of daily gym time), so I had to be able to make dinner for myself. Which leads me too. . . Charleston She-Crab Crab Soup. Now, being made from the superior crab gender, it had to be good, right? Well. . . maybe not. It didn't have chowder consistency that I was expecting. It lacked in salt, which is easily solvable, but not my cup of tea. And the worst part (aside from me burning my toast) was that it looked like the aftermath of a bad night out with Sarv. I mean, sadly enough, the best part of my dinner was the burnt toast - tomato basil loaf courtesy of Panera Bread.

On a happier note, mom's back from her two month trip to Vietnam. And guess what she brought back for me? (Other than her un-ending love for her youngest daughter). COOKBOOKS! Granted, they're all in Vietnamese and it'll take me hours to translate them in my head (with my oh-so-basic knowledge of my native tongue ::sigh::), but it's one step closer to making those authentic Vietnamese dishes I always loved eating but was never taught how to make. I don't know when I'll ever see them, seeing as how it takes forever for them to mail me stuff from over there (---> Orange County). Perhaps it'll come in the mail with that thing I asked my dad for so that I can go join the Y.

And on an even happier note: Ben made me dinner yesterday! He made baked chicken pasta from one of his new W-S cookbooks. It was scrumptious! But, we - or rather, HE - has leftovers enough for a month. Instead of listening to me and scaling down the recipe, he decided to make the whole batch in order to have leftovers. Well, the recipe said "Serves 6-8", but what they really means was "Serves 6-8 small Sumo Wrestlers." I mean, in the little 1.5 quart baking dish there was enough for at least 3 good sized humans. And we had half of it full and still the medium 3 quart baking dish still untouched. Well, at least it was YUMMY!

25 February 2007

I like you!

It's a bit dreary today down in HR. I decided to brighten my day (after having driven an hour and a half to/from VA Beach to buy a vacuum from a really nice lady and her adorable daughter) by trying out a dessert recipe I read in the February issue of Martha Stewart Living. The dessert was intended to be the grande finale for her V-day dinner, but I didn't have time to make it that day (and Ben put together an extravagant steak dinner with a decadent chocolate-chip cookie fudge brownie vanilla icecream chocolate and caramel syrup monster for dessert that we barely put a dent in). In any case, I decided to try out the recipe today.

Instead of using just raspberries for the pavlovas and the curd, I used a berry mix of blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries. I have to say, making the pavlovas is a time consuming process. Well, perhaps not as time-consuming as the croissants, but they have to sit in the oven at 175 degrees F for at least an hour and a half. That means that once I put them into the oven, I have to sit my impatient butt down and surf the interweb while G plays videogames and wait for them to finish and cool before I can even taste them. They'd better be worth it. . .

As a side note, while they're baking and the curd is sitting pretty in the fridge, I picked up a new cookbook/entertaining book yesterday while I was at Borders (trying to drown my sorrows with shopping). I Like You by Amy Sedaris. And Amy Sedaris does, in fact, rock! The book itself is a little eclectic. It's full of great recipes and ideas on entertaining (what to cook, what to drink, how to decorate, etc. . . ), and I found myself oddly enthralled by the pictures and illustrations seemingly randomly put on every single page. It's like she decided to just run wild with the format of the book. Definitely not your typical cookbook, but that's probably what makes it so great. Flipping through the book makes me want to decorate my (non-existent) den (in my imaginary house) with wood paneling and green shag carpet - circa 1970s. Now, back to the pavlovas. . .

After a few hours of slow s l o w s l o w baking in the oven, they came out pretty nice, like lavender clouds. Unfortunately, my impatience (and my fear that they would burn) got the best of me and they were taken out a bit premature. The outside was nice and crisp, but the inside was a bit chewy and stuck to my teeth. Paired with the berry curd, and strange consistency aside, it was perfect. The curd was not too sweet, and not too bland, but just right. It would probably be good with the croissants I made a few days ago. Next time, perhaps a little creme fraiche or whipped cream would be a good addition, but, alas, I had none on hand.

I'm off to Ben's for dinner. I wonder what he's making. . .

23 February 2007

Do you like seafood? See? FOOD!

Wednesday was the start of Lent. Aside from self-sacrifice and the need to inconvenience myself as a form of penance and preparation for the most important Sunday of the Year, it's also a good time to get creative with seafood and tofu recipes. I've decided to try out some recipes courtesy of Rasa Malaysia and My Husband Cooks.

Seafood dish #1: SHRIMP ROLLS! I had some frozen shrimp that needed to get used. So, out they came. The rolling wasn't my favorite thing to do, since the wonton wrappers were a bit on the small side for the shrimp that I used, but they turned out pretty nice. I haven't fried them yet because I just didn't want to eat them. Weird. Does all the prep work to make something and then doesn't finish? Apparently, I do. I'll make some tonight as a sort of appetizer for dinner. The rest will just sit pretty in the freezer, buddied up with the leftover crab rangoon that I didn't fry up. Which brings me to. . .

Seafood dish #2: CRAB RANGOON! I actually did fry up some of these for Ben. I know he likes them, so I decided to bring some over to him since he was cooking me dinner. I had issues with wrapping them the traditional way, so I got a little creative and did two different wrapping styles. They turned out great, drizzled in honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds. They weren't as spicy as I was hoping they would be, but that can be easily remedied next time around.

So perhaps not the healthiest of dishes, but who said anything about being healthy? The only criteria was that they not contain meat (in the beef, pork, poultry, etc. sense of the word). I even made myself a tuna-melt-ish sandwich for lunch today. I didn't have a chance to take a picture of it this morning, but just imagine tuna with roasted red peppers sandwiched in asiago cheese focaccia with provolone and baby spinach, cooked in a panini press. I can't wait for lunch!

There will definitely be more seafood to come. Seared scallops? Blackened salmon? Steamed tilapia? The possibilities are ENDLESS!

21 February 2007

Mr. President, may I present to you Tran the Baker

Over the holiday weekend, I decided that I would take a little time and bake some bread. Much to my dismay, my lack of experience in the bread-making world and without a knowledgeable companion to show me the ropes, my goods were far from spectacular. I suppose however, they were good enough.

First try: Whole Wheat Sesame Seed Mini-Bagels (courtesy of delicious days). What can I say about these? Well for starters, they were adorable. They weren't exactly perfect looking, but that is on account of the fact that I don't have the best kitchen equipment to make dough, and my hands/upper arms aren't nearly strong enough to mix/knead it all by hand. Some day, that Kitchenaid standing mixer will be mine!!! But, I digress. Back to the subject at hand. The dough, well, did not turn out the right consistency once I had mixed all the ingredients together. So, with my lack of experience with these sort of things, I added a little water. The result? A very, very dense bagel. I ended up with 17 little creations - five went to Ben, a dozen stayed home in a pretty little display on my counter. We ended up eating only 2 1/2, the rest went to the circular filing cabinet. I just couldn't eat them. They were just too dense. Next time (if there ever is a next time), they'll be better.

Second try: Mini-Croissants (courtesy of 100 Great Breads by Paul Hollywood). These turned out a bit better. Not the melt-in-your-mouth croissants that I was hoping for, but it is an extremely labor-intensive project that I probably wasn't ready for given my experience in the field of breads. I should have left them in the oven a bit longer, because the first batch I tasted was still a bit on the dough-y side, but the bottoms were starting to burn. I think a quick reheat in the toaster oven will get them to the perfect finish. They didn't have the golden finish I was expecting (even with the eggwash), but they definitely did turn out better than the bagels. They'll probably be great dipped in sweetened condensed milk (how my mom served it for breakfast) or perhaps as mini-sandwiches. In any case, these are definitely not being trashed.

I'm rather proud of my first (actually second, but first recorded) adventure into the land of baking bread. The experience wasn't so bad that I'd never do it again, but I'll probably try less ambitious projects next time and work my way up to these at some later point in my life.

Side note: I can't find the SD card-reader to get the pictures off my camera, so for now, just picture what these things will look like. Pictures will be up as soon as I can find it, or get my hands on a new one.

16 February 2007


NOTE: This blog is supposed to be mainly about my adventures with food - cooking, eating, experimenting, etc. This first post, however, has little to do with food because I don't have anything to share, just yet, and because I thought I would first introduce myself. I promise that this will be the only post in this entire blog that does not have to do with food. It's an introduction.

Scanning the internet for recipes and other culinary ideas is something that I do on a daily basis (for more hours than I should admit). So, it's safe to assume that I've stumbled upon some of the best, most spectacular food blogs out there. As someone who enjoys cooking (and feels like she should have gone to culinary school rather than get her B.S. in engineering), I thought I would start making my little dent on the culinary world. Sure, I won't be trying out for Top Chef anytime soon (casting calls have come to a close for season three already anyway), but I can still make a mean ham&spinach quiche and velvet cake (sans red because I didn't have any food coloring that day).

My culinary adventures may take several forms and shapes - from prix fixe meals during Restaurant Week (the only time I can afford some of these places) to everyday home-cooked meals for me and my beau, and from simple meals (hello Sunday morning blueberry pancakes) to five course dinners (a la A Chef's Kitchen). I may also throw in other food-related blogs, such as the random kitchen accessories -- like the to-die-for Kyocera ceramic knife Karen got for Christmas (and I wanted to keep for myself) -- or favorite Food Network TV Shows -- like the ever beautiful Giada DiLaurentis' Everyday Italian (so jealous).

In any case, this is my blog about food and all things related to food. Now, it may never be as worldly as The Traveler's Lunchbox or as witty as the delicious life, but it's mine. And I hope you like it.

ONE LAST THING: sugercane kumquats - you press them together and pure the juice (minus all the pulp) over ice. A favorite summer drink of my childhood.