Saturday, June 29, 2013

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Still shying away from making real pies, my ears perked up when my co-worker recommended Barefoot Contessa's Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp. I prefer to make the Apple-Oat Crisp only when it's cold out, much to K's dismay. But, this recipe calls for strawberries, so it is a summer crisp. I made this awhile ago as well, when strawberries were in season and more importantly, cheap. 

Make sure to place a sheet pan underneath the baking dish! I forgot to do that, so the bottom of our oven is now blackened with strawberry syrup ash.

Pork Belly

Finally getting around to posting this pork belly recipe K made awhile ago. He followed the Dong Po Pork Belly recipe on the blog, Kitchen of Friends, and made some adjustments, including adding Chinese five spice and star anise to add flavor and aroma. Some of the other substitutions were merely because he was using what we had on hand. It turned out really well, resulting in a very tender and fatty pork belly, with plenty of flavor. The bun helps cut the grease and soak up the juice.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Oyakodon (Japanese Chicken and Egg Bowl)

Last week, K made Oyakodon, a homey Japanese dish, consisting of chicken, egg, and onions in a soy sauce broth over rice. It was his first attempt at it, following Nami's Just One Cookbook recipe. She explains the meaning behind the dish and provides step-by-step instructions with photos. For ease and posterity, I've copied the recipe here, sans pics. The only deviation K made was using cilantro instead of mitsuba (wild Japanese parsley), which we can't get in our neighborhood. It's simple comfort food in one bowl.  

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tissue Paper Bouquet

Tissue paper bouquet for Fon's graduation. I've been making these flowers for over a year now from scraps of tissue paper and pipe cleaners. It never occurred to me to make a bouquet until this past week. I had a lot of fun making the flag from a chop stick, washi tape, and card stock.

Lime Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

The inspiration for these Lime Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting were these cute cupcake liners and some limes I had on hand. Linda's Lemon Sour Cream Pound Cake seemed like a good base for the batter. I simply substituted the lemons with limes and found an easy buttercream frosting recipe from the blog, Unsophisticated Cook. To give the frosting a little more zing, I added some lemon extract and lime juice, but could have easily added more lime juice and zest. To make it less sweet, I cut the sugar in half and added more butter. It also yielded more frosting, which came in handy when attempting to pipe the frosting. As you can see, I compensated for my poor piping skills by applying them with a butter knife in a way to resemble flowers. I actually preferred my method to the piped ones.

Below, is a picture I took with my phone of the cupcakes ready for Mother's Day. 

See my recipe after the jump.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Farro Salad with Roasted Mushrooms

This Farro Salad with Roasted Mushrooms and Parmesan by Merrill on Food 52 was recommended to me by my colleague, who claimed that it's simple to make. Since we love our mushrooms and have most of the ingredients on hand, I brought it into our dinner rotation last week. I was amazed that it didn't need garlic or onions. Mushrooms are rather bland, so I thought it would need one or the other. I was wrong. The cheese and lemon juice really carry the flavor. And, farro has become my new favorite grain. That said, I prefer more mushrooms to farro, unlike Merrill. You'll see that I added a few more ounces. Also, I didn't have ungrated Parmesan, so I substituted it with the grated Pecorino Romano we always have on hand. I know it would have been better the other way, but the flavor was still there. You may find my adaptation of the original recipe after the jump. Enjoy!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Chocolate Cream Pie (with Pretzel Crust)

Like Carol Han of Milk & Mode, I needed to know how to recreate Rachel's Chocolate Cream Pie after sampling it at Smorgasburg last year. Lucky for me, she already beat me to it and posted the recipe on her blog. I really wanted to test the entire recipe, but played it safe with the tried and true Chocolate Cream Pie recipe from Epicurious for the filling and topping.  Below, you'll find the Epicurious recipe with Milk & Mode's pretzel crust as an option, and my modifications.

Note, the dulce de leche takes two hours, so plan ahead. I set a timer and checked on it every few minutes while I watched TV. It's best to make the crust and filling the day before and then the topping right before serving.

This pie was made happily for our friends, Aaron & Amy, who shared the inspirational slice at Smorgasburg.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Ricotta Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

K has made various kinds of meatballs over the years, but apparently these Pork-and-Ricotta Meatballs in Tomato Sauce from Food & Wine were the easiest to make even though they took three hours. He tested the recipe as is a couple of nights ago, but made a few changes for his second batch. Obviously, the tweaks only made them better. By adding veal and beef to the mix, as well as the Pecorino Romano, the meatballs have more flavor. Also, you can't go wrong with using San Marzano tomatoes and adding butter to the sauce. For details, click on the link below.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Dinner

K fulfilled my heart and belly with his Stuffed Artichokes for Valentine's Day this year. He added porcini mushroom tortellini to make the meal heartier. I would post the recipe for the five-spice beet soup, but it didn't come out as I had hoped. It tasted fine, but the texture was a little chunky and raw. Next time, I will roast the beets instead of cooking them in the microwave—I should have known better!

For dessert, we had K's favorite, Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Raspberry Sauce.

Valentine's Day Card & Banners

Valentine's Day "pop-out" card for K. It came together as I went along, stemming from the photo printed on card stock.

And, a festive banner made with card stock, wrapping paper, tape, glue, and string. Because I don't own a sewing machine, I went the laborious route and taped and glued together each and every double-sided heart. I think there are more than 70 total. With the amount of free time I have these days, it wasn't a problem at all. It's amazing how much small pieces of paper and string can transform a space. (The Instagram photo I took isn't great, but you get the picture.)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Chinese Almond Cookies

With yesterday being Chinese/Korean/Lunar New Year, I made these Chinese Almond Cookies. Since I seem to always have almonds on hand for the Sweet Almond Bread Pudding I love so much, it was the logical dessert to make.

The recipe is pastry chef and cookbook author Anita Chu's recipe, found on Asia Society's site. I chose it because it used only butter, not shortening. Also, it didn't require almond flour, which I didn't have nor know where to get. To make sure it had enough almond flavor, I added more almond extract.  

Apparently these cookies are very common, but I've only had them once before. So, I can't say whether these cookies are authentic. However, I can say that K and my family were pleased with them, especially my dad (the baker).

b girl b knits

My sister, Beautia, is the girl behind b girl b knits. She's the one who taught herself to knit and crochet several years ago and hasn't stopped since. Her knitting blog and previous food blog Gastronomic Exploits, that she co-authored with her boyfriend, Davneet, were the inspiration for paper and plates. Their food blog hasn't been active in awhile, but is worth viewing for the mouth-watering recipes and well-written reviews.

Within the past month, the three of us joined forces and gave Beautia's blog a facelift. We're working on providing her readers with a knitting chart generator eventually. Hopefully that'll be ready in another month. In the meantime, go check out the blog! It even includes some original patterns for sale if you feel inclined to knit, as well as some sewn and beaded pieces.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Vegetable Tea

No, that's not a typo. My mom introduced me to vegetable tea a few months ago. I was in my parents' kitchen and she offered me some. When I asked her what was in it, she listed a bunch of vegetables in addition to water. I took a sip, told her that it's vegetable broth, and dismissed her. I didn't consider making some for myself and drinking it seriously until I heard that my dad recovered from a flu within three days of my mom's tea and getting lots of rest. 

My mom has a history of adding anything to hot water and calling it "tea." Several years ago, she served me pear honey tea to get rid of a cold. It's essentially hot water and Asian pear that has been steamed with honey. She insisted that or ginger, lemon, and honey in hot water would cure me. I was skeptical, but preferred to drink those teas rather than take medicine. While I can't guarantee that it got rid of the cold 100%, I don't recall being sick for very long. I've been drinking honey lemon ginger tea almost every day and I can't remember feeling under the weather since then. 

I quickly looked up "vegetable tea" online to see whether other people were drinking it and found several sources, much to my surprise. Most of the sources were blogs dedicated to homeopathic remedies and macrobiotics. They of course claimed that it has huge health benefits, including "Crohn's disease, Colitis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Inflammation, Constipation, Diabetes, Hypoglycemia, Sugar Cravings, Metabolism Disorders, Cleansing, and Weight Loss" (according to Megan's Mind). Having been raised by a mom who firmly believes in the medicinal properties of food, I do believe in this stuff. Still, I can't help but remain somewhat skeptical... So, I am going to set a trend for the new lunar year by drinking it every day (when possible). This is more doable than going on a juicing cleanse or turning vegan.

You can find various recipes online, even by Food & Wine. My mom just boils whatever vegetables she has onhand. Finally following her advice, I did the same. Mine consists of:

acorn squash
beet stems
kale ribs
napa cabbage
oyster mushrooms

Roasted Napa Cabbage

Inspired by a photo of roasted lettuce in Bon Appétit awhile back, I baked an entire cabbage tonight. We've roasted all sorts of vegetables, but never the leafy kind. It just seemed like a bad idea—causing it to burn or wilt. But, the gorgeous photo convinced me otherwise. After tonight's attempt, I think I'll be doing it more often. It produced a deep nutty flavor that is missing when you braise or sauté vegetables.      

For guidance, I followed's Roasted Napa Cabbage recipe, but made enough edits to rewrite it. My instructions are after the jump. 

(Photo taken by myself again, but without Instagram's aid. Sorry, this is why I need K's help.)

Yachae Mandoo (Korean Vegetable Dumplings)

I wish I could say that this recipe is my grandmother's or even my mother's, but it's just one that I made up last night. Sure, it's based on dumplings they've made and ones I've had at Korean establishments. But, when I called my mom for her recipe, all she could offer was a list of a few ingredients and to use whatever I have on hand. For a woman who never cooked from a cookbook, I can't blame her. It's difficult to share a recipe when it's in your head and there is no exact formula. As a result, I looked up a few recipes online and modified them to match what I remembered. 

Although my family typically makes beef dumplings, I opted to make vegetable dumplings because I think they're the best. Unlike Chinese or Japanese dumplings, they're distinctly Korean, even with similar ingredients such as tofu, vermicelli noodles, and sesame oil. For me, the flavors are all there, so you don't really need a dipping sauce. However, if you want a sauce, the Korean Tofu Salad dressing doubles as a dip.

What follows is what I consider yachae mandoo, or Korean vegetable dumplings. It was made for the first time yesterday, so it's not tried and true. Feel free to let me know if there's room for improvement.

(Photo taken by myself, with the help of Instagram. K was unavailable.)

Rigatoni with Lentils

Among the five things I made last night was Lidia Bastianich's Rigatoni with Lentils. It was my first time making any of her dishes. We haven't had Italian food in awhile and I wanted to make something with the lentils on hand. Since my dad has mentioned that he liked her recipes in the past, I thought it'd be worth trying. It turned out pretty well, especially after adding lots of extra-virgin olive oil and salt. K likened it to a stew, which makes sense, given the tomato base, lentils, carrots, and celery. It's an easy, hearty dish, perfect for vegetarians! And, it's a cheap meal. 

I followed Lidia's recipe for the most part. There were some things I did differently, mainly because I misread the instructions and didn't measure ingredients like oil or salt. Hence, I only noted what I changed intentionally. For example, Lidia tends to add A LOT of butter and cheese. I know this from her PBS show, so I cut down the amount of cheese as it seemed excessive. As always, you're more than welcome to follow the original recipe. To see my amendments, see below.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Teacup Bouquet Pop-Up Card

Noriko's birthday is coming up, so I made another pop-up card based on the teacup bouquet in Playful Pop-Up Cards, by Takami Suzuki. If you've been following the blog, you'll notice that I used the same Japanese silk-screened paper to make the paper wallets. The pattern is so pretty, I didn't want to do much for the front.

Oven-Fry Poutine with Garlic Gravy

Poutine, Disco Fries, or simply cheese fries with gravy is one of my favorite things to order at the diner, especially in the winter. With one last block of Gruyere in the fridge and just the right amount of garlic soup left over from the previous week, I had all the excuses I needed to make my own version and call it dinner. I would have posted the garlic soup, but it wasn't the best—mostly because of the homemade vegetable stock I used. Anyhow, it made a better gravy and companion to the Gruyere. 

I tried to make the meal a smidge healthier by baking the fries in the oven and eating it with a huge parsley salad with a mustard cider vinaigrette. No recipes today since it was cobbled together. I will post them in the future if the stars align again for poutine :)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Macaroni and Cheese

Needing to use up the Gruyere left over from Christmas Eve, I finally made an adult macaroni and cheese. The perfect recipe seemed to be Martha Stewart's, according to several sources online. I liked that it incorporated Gruyere and included bread crumbs. Rather than make the bread crumbs, I used what we had on hand, which was panko (Japanese bread crumbs). It turned out really well, by adding a light and crispy topping. As for the macaroni and cheese, it was everything I could ask for—creamy and flavorful. The cayenne pepper gave it a nice kick and the nutmeg didn't seem out of place.

The original recipe yields enough to feed an army, so I halved it and included the edits here. I substituted the milk with heavy cream, only because we needed to use that up as well. I'm sure it only made it richer.

Roasted Chicken

K made a roasted chicken the other night, using Thomas Keller's technique. In lieu of a recipe, I'm posting a You Tube clip of the man himself demonstrating how to make the perfect roasted chicken.

Korean Tofu Salad

This Korean Tofu Salad is the only salad K ever requests. It's based on salads we've had at either Japanese or Korean restaurants. The dressing is super simple, consisting of: soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and a little bit of agave nectar. I just add those ingredients into a bottle, with a ratio of 1:1:1 (for the first three ingredients), and shake. Then I pour it over salad greens and toss. Finally, add cubed tofu (silken is best), sprinkle toasted sesame seeds, and black pepper. That's it. Very, very simple and sooo much better than bottled salad dressings.           

Portabella Mushroom Fajitas

As much as I love Mexican food (it's in my top 3), I rarely attempt to make it at home. I think living in a city where you can find great food of any cuisine, it's easier to leave it to the professionals. Whatever the reason, I may slowly incorporate Mexican into our rotation after the mushroom fajitas I made. Not to pat myself on the back, but they were way better than many vegetarian burritos/tacos I've had in my life. Yes, it's a bold statement. But, eating like a vegetarian on occasion, I think I'm allowed to say this. It seems as though many places don't put a lot of thought or care into vegetarian dishes. They think that putting any vegetable will do and that the vegetarians/vegans will be content with it. That is the main reason I'm not a vegetarian. If there were as many amazing vegetarian options as there are non-vegetarian, I'd have no problem making the switch.

I know this was worth making again because K ate leftovers for two days. My recipe is after the jump.