Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cobb Salad

Each time K's sister is in town, she orders a cobb salad wherever it's available, so I decided to make her one this time. I followed Smitten Kitchen's recipe since it seemed to be the most authentic and I liked the addition of watercress. The only ingredient I substituted was the dry mustard—using Dijon instead because that's what we had. I don't think it made much of  a difference and it turned out really well. K kept telling me this was way better than my last attempt, which was missing several ingredients. 

Saeko's Appetizers

K's sister offered to make appetizers for Christmas. Since Saeko is a very good cook, I knew that whatever she'd make would be delicious. Bagna càuda and this canapé made of prosciutto and avocado are apparently her go-to party dishes. We were happy to have something different, especially my dad.

Bagna càuda is a warm dip from Piedmont, Italy. Saeko's version consists of: milk, garlic, anchovy sauce, olive oil, and butter. I don't have specific measurements, but will provide rough estimates and instructions for it and the canapé below.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

More Snowmen...and Snowwomen

K's nephew really got carried away with making snowmen, we had a full assembly line to ensure he had enough to decorate. To use up the snowmen, Julian made a couple of pop-up cards based on the snowman pop-up card I made.

Snowman Coconut Cream Pie

For Christmas, I made the coconut cream pie again, but dressed it up by topping it with shredded coconut that was untoasted and placing a snowman topper. I simply cut out two snowmen out of cardstock and stapled them together at the top. (To disguise the staple, I colored it with a black permanent marker.) The snowman was drawn by K's sister and five year-old nephew. I love how he added the green to the carrot to make it extra clear that it's a carrot.

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Decor

In anticipation of K's five year-old nephew, we purchased our first real Christmas tree this year—not the little rosemary bush we've been getting in the past. Since we didn't have much more than one set of gold ball ornaments, I decided to be resourceful and make them with origami paper and fishing wire. I've had a stash of origami paper for many years, along with origami books, so I was set. I made some teardrops and various animals. I'm enlisting the nephew to help with the rest over the weekend. The white globs are flowers made of tissue paper. I had them already on hand from last year's holiday wreath. And, the bow and ribbons on the tree are made of brown paper and a bit of Christmas wrapping paper mainly because we had plenty around.

To make the story of Santa Claus even more convincing for the little guy, I created a fake fireplace out of cardboard, brown paper, and masking tape. I was going to leave it bare, but decided to paint it with a sponge at the last minute. I'm not so sure I love the color (green), but it'll do. To save some paint, I wrapped a black garbage bag around a piece of cardboard for the the backdrop. The fake firelogs were made with scrap copy paper and black markers; the fire, made of tissue paper.

How to hang the stocking on a cardboard fireplace came to me while waiting for the train on a subway platform. The trick is to tie it to a heavy slim book, so that it can fit behind the fireplace and provide the proper weight to balance the weight of the stocking and any of its contents. To my surprise, it worked quite well. (Just writing this down here so I remember to do it again in the future.)

Well, I hope you all enjoy this long holiday weekend.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Sugar Cookies

Tonight, I made these Christmas sugar cookies for K since he missed yesterday's cookie party. I've followed various sugar cookie recipes over the years, but Grandma Minnie's Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies from is the best. The cookies come out soft and chewy. The only thing I changed was add a tad more of heavy cream to prevent the dough from being too dry.

For the frosting, I used Royal Icing I, also from Because I love the taste of lemons, I doubled the lemon extract. I highly recommend you do the same. It yields way more than you'll need, so you may want to halve the recipe. 

Read on for my adjustments after the jump.

Chicken Pot Pie with Savory Crumble Topping

This non-traditional Chicken Pot Pie with Savory Crumble Topping from America's Test Kitchen is totally worth making if you have the time. K made this for Valentine's Day 2011. Yes, it's not close to being the most romantic dish, but a way to this woman's heart is good food. 

Instead of the traditional pie crust, the folks at America's Test Kitchen came up with a deconstructed version that hints at the real thing. My favorite part of any pie is the crust, so being able to enjoy the crumble topping first was genius! I couldn't help myself from picking at the topping while K slaved away in the kitchen.

You may find the recipe at or below. There's no need to alter the recipe as it is perfect.

Roasted Pumpkin Soup and Curly Endive Salad

Last week, I made a Roasted Pumpkin Soup and a Chicory and Garlic Crouton Salad. I chose this meal for several reasons. First, my mom gave me an Asian pumpkin. Second, I needed to use up more of the leftover toast from Thanksgiving, which has been sitting in the freezer since. And lastly, I wanted to utilize the onion jam I made a couple of weeks ago.

The Roasted Pumpkin Soup recipe was adapted from from I substituted the sugar baby pumpkin with the Asian pumpkin, which is apparently much sweeter. To cut the sweetness, I added onion jam to the soup. I got the idea from a delicious butternut squash soup we had in the neighborhood. The newly opened restaurant, Hunter's, added some kind of pickled fruit (maybe apple?) to their soup and I was blown away.

The Curly Endive and Garlic Crouton Salad was inspired by the recipe with the same name in Veggie Food, by Kay Scarlett. It's a great vegetarian cookbook with beautiful photos accompanying each recipe. I took the liberty to swap some of the ingredients, simply to use what we had on hand. FYI, chicory is synonymous with curly endive, here in the States. I didn't know this until earlier this year. And, I masked any freezer burn from the toast by rubbing it with garlic first and then olive oil. This method also transfers the garlic flavor better than cooking or baking the bread with it. I've only included the ingredients below because there isn't too much to explain with a salad and the recipe doesn't seem to be available online.

The onion jam recipe will come in a later post. For now, see my adaptations to the soup and salad after the jump.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Snowman Pop-Up Card

Here is the second Christmas pop-up card from Takami Suzuki's book, Playful Pop-Up Cards. Without the proper craft punches for the snow, eyes, and buttons, I made do with my regular hole puncher and markers. I also made a few other changes like giving the snowman a top hat instead of the fez in the book. What can I say, I'm a traditionalist when it comes to my snowman.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmas Tree Pop-Up Card

Getting into the holiday spirit by making this pop-up card from Takami Suzuki's book, Playful Pop-Up Cards. I didn't have any gel pens for the snow, so made pinholes instead. And, without any star (craft) punches, I used metallic star stickers that I've had for almost a decade.  

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Fried Green Tomatoes with "Remoulade"

A couple of months ago, my sister Becca and I made fried green tomatoes with a remoulade-type sauce for brunch. It was our first time making them, but thought they came out pretty well. We followed a fantastic recipe from Simply Recipes, complete with a remoulade. I'm sure they would have been even better had we followed it exactly. (We didn't have any Cajun seasoning nor Creole mustard.) Nonetheless, they were as good or better than what I've sampled in my life thus far.

See our adaptation of the recipe after the jump. 

Mushroom-Leek Bread Stuffing with Herbs

With the left over bread from Thanksgiving, I asked K to make this Mushroom-Leek Bread Stuffing with Herbs. It's an America’s Test Kitchen recipe that he made a couple of years ago. I like it because it's simple. Unfortunately he didn't save the recipe, so we had to look it up. We found most of it on Tastebook, but filled in the blank after step 7.  To see those steps and K's tweaks, read on after the jump.