Friday, August 23, 2013

Green tea isn't easy being Green

Green tea.  Can't just boil water and add green tea to it.  I think it would've tasted better than this green tea cake I made.  The reality of this was that it looks too much like a Pacman.

I wasn't too impressed with the results of this cake simply because it tasted a bit too dried out.

Cake to me needs to be moist or at least have some bite to it to be tasty.  At least to me anyways.

Tuna

Fresh tuna.  Why ruin it? Sushi is always a fun experiment, but when the knife isn't sharp, the sushi looks a bit sloppy.

Perhaps the next time we do sushi, we don't do it when really hungry.  Takes a bit too much time to be considered a "quick fix."

Comfort Food

Comfort food comes in all forms.  In the land of America, comfort food involves a possible childhood favorite.  Unfortunately, the only time I ever had this childhood favorite was in the school cafeteria since my mom never cooked it.

I decided to get a little adventurous and tried making sloppy Joe's with oven baked fries.  I was ridiculed a little for making oven baked fries, but with the amount of oil the boyfriend used, it might as well have been fried.

Eh well, served with a cold beer, this childhood classic made the boyfriend happy and it honestly tasted better than what I remember.  Then again, my memory of cafeteria food as a kid almost would make anyone's stomach turn a different direction.  Where's Jaime Oliver when you need him?

Ginger to be Revisted...

Ginger.  Given on one of the hottest days of the year.  I really didn't have the motivation to cook.  I mean, cooking on a hot day in a hot apartment (despite the AC on, two dogs and the boyfriend don't cool it :) ).

I decided to make a vegetable smoothie with ginger and serve it with cucumber sandwiches.  Light and healthy just like this entry.

Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar

Strawberries are one of the many fruits I don't mind just eating straight out of the carton once washed of course.  Thinking of what to do with strawberries is also a bit of a challenge.

I chose the simple route for this one since I was hitting a roadblock.  I chose strawberries with balsamic vinegar.  To complicate the challenge though I paired it with fresh vanilla ice cream.  I had never gotten the chance to make ice cream out of my Kitchenaid and thought, why not?

A good pairing even though the ice cream was more like frozen yogurt since we were too impatient to taste it.

Ooey Gooey Butter Cake

Have you ever had one of those moments when you wish you understood the American culture better?

Okay, so maybe its just me.  Either way, the boyfriend wanted a taste of St Louis.  I have never been to St Louis, so I'm not entirely sure what the flavor of St Louis entails.  He handed me a piece of paper with a recipe on it.  It consisted of minimal ingredients and even more minimal instructors on how to prepare the infamous Ooey Gooey Butter Cake.

We had to cool down this cake before tasting it.  We also had to figure out a way to keep it out of the boyfriend's dog Cheever from eating it.  For Thanksgiving 2012, the boyfriend wanted to take a "pake" to his brother's.  A "pake" consists of a pie inside a cake.  He was in the middle of cooling the pie when he left it on top of the stove top.  Big mistake, Cheever ate half the pie by the time we got him to stop!  No "pake" for Thanksgiving to say the least. It was this instance that we decided to cool anything off the stove top.  We've gone to the lengths of putting things in a cabinet to cool and away from the dogs.

Though I have to admit, some of things might be better off not on my waistline.  Who am I kidding?!  A foodie has to find balance.  The balance for me is going to the gym 3-4 times a week to keep these challenges from appearing on my waist.

The results of the Ooey Gooey Butter Cake was tasty and to see the boyfriend weak at the knees over it was more than enough to see Cheever pout a bit.

Celery Root at its Finest?

There are weeks when the boyfriend suggests something totally ordinary, and then there are weeks where he suggests something out of the ordinary.  He suggested that I work with celery root.  Earlier in the week, I decided to see what the not so ordinary vegetable had to offer.  I made the mistake of going to Ralley's to pick up a celery root.  I say a mistake because the celery root was the size of a small rock.  I don't have a problem with it being the size of a small rock, but paying over $3.00 for it was the mistake!  I'm a true believer in buying good food for cheap.

When I actually went to get the ingredient of the week, I went to a place called Sprouts and spent $3.00 for the celery root.  The kicker was when I found the celery root at the size of small boulder, I was a happy camper.

I used the celery root for a Jacques P├ępin recipe called, celery root and carrot with fresh Dijon mustard.

Hollandaise dresses up Asparagus

So the challenge continued, but my creativity had hit a roadblock for this one.  Asparagus came into season and I'm all about using fresh ingredients and while in season.  Asparagus also has the after the effect of turning one's pee green.  I know, too much information, but tidbits are part of the appeal of the blog, no?

For the asparagus itself, I oven roasted them and attempted to do a Hollandaise sauce to drizzle over it.  Hollandaise sauce is a challenge, and when not equipped properly, it can easily make Hollandaise into scrambled eggs.  There's a reason I dislike electric stove tops, and that tends to be because it over heats the items you're cooking too quickly and results become either burnt, or in my case, scrambled.

Once I managed enough sauce, I wrapped the asparagus in smoked salmon and poured the Hollandaise over it.

Results proved to be tasty and satisfying.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Bravery..

Every once in awhile, I feel brave and want to completely experiment with something that isn't on my designated "ingredient" week or "recipe" week because I crave for something different.  With limited funds, going to a five-star restaurant is out, but it doesn't make my taste for something extravagant diminish, if anything, it makes me want to work harder towards achieving the goal.

At the same time, the more I pay for a meal, the more I feel somewhat disappointed.  I can't explain this well so I will try my best.

When my dad turned 70, he had the dream of eating at the French Laundry, like my brother and his wife did for their honeymoon.  The French Laundry is one of the top eateries in the San Francisco Bay Area, and also pricy...Instead of sending my dad to the French Laundry, my brother sent him to Bouchon, another Thomas Keller restaurant for a slightly lower price tag.

In any event, I was more in the mood to try going the Italian route on this particular test of mine.  I was also limited to what was in my fridge.

The results weren't French Laundry or Bouchon but close enough to gourmet quality that I will try to do again at some point.


I guess the Remy in me said, "anyone can do this," was a bit too ambitious for this one, but nevertheless, its one I plan to do again.

Back to the near Middle East

Back to the land of Israel for a different take on couscous.  I like couscous but never had Israeli couscous.  The boyfriend picked this ingredient while at a different shop than we normally would shop at and said, "looks interesting, let's have you cook it."  His infamous last words, "looks interesting."
Israeli couscous with Mediterranean chicken

I decided to pair it with a Mediterranean chicken.  To me, the Mediterranean chicken had lot more flavor than the Israeli couscous, but then again, Israeli couscous is a bit of a bland side dish.

Back to the Roots

In light of the possibility of "ignoring" my mother's culture of richness of food, the boyfriend, a Midwestern, in every sense of the word requested that my dish of the following the great Easter desert mishap, he requested I do chicken.  Not just chicken any way I wanted, but he wanted Indonesian chicken.  So, I turned to my mother and said, "Indonesian chicken requests the boyfriend."  She looked surprised back at me, and said, "really? is he really wanting an Indonesian dish?" I said, "apparently bule (white man in Indonesian) food isn't acceptable this week."

I did my fair share of research, and my mom of course upped the ante to include an ingredient that most bule dislike, including my own father, fermented shrimp paste. Normally, when she uses her shrimp paste it comes out in the form of sambal terasi --Indonesian chili paste made of fermented shrimp paste.  Sounds as horrible as it almost tastes, but the BOYFRIEND, likes it, even if it has fermented shrimp paste.

She handed me the recipe of chicken rica or as my cousins fancy, rica ayem. I probably should've gone as far as serving rice with this dish as it normally is, but decided to only serve lightly blanched green beans.  I also figured, go bolder with serving with a Heineken since I couldn't find the Indonesian beer of Bintang (a subdivision of Heineken).

Passover, the other tradition around Easter time

In the spirit of trying new things and exposing myself even further into other cultures, I figured, I try dabbling into the Judaic traditions since I was curious about Passover.  It was a tradition surrounded by food and family for a friend of mine, and Easter for the rest of us (at least for the boyfriend and I).

broccoli kugel 
The boyfriend gave me the ingredient broccoli, so I figured, broccoli is a pretty bland vegetable.  It looks like a tree, and tastes just as fibrous, not that I would know what a tree tastes like, but that's my guess.  Since I always push my former church members to the edge to try new things, why not push them to try something of the Jewish tradition.  My former church members are non-denominational (Baptist) conservative Indonesians that try to say that they are inclusive church by welcoming those of other cultures.  I only went to keep my mother happy but with the risk of my happiness and faith dwindling, I've stopped going as regularly.  In any event, I pushed my limit with trying to satisfy the curiosity of my exposure to other cultures, and upholding the occasional contribution to the church's potluck.

broccoli kugel with chipotle
Easter Sunday was probably not the best time to introduce a kugel, let alone leave it for someone to question what it was.  I didn't know that a good friend of mine, the resident chef, was catering the Easter meal, so I put my kugel back in the fridge and left a note on it saying, "side dish to a Passover meal."  I also didn't know how much disregard one of the church members had for my courteous plate. She threw the note out and served my dish with the BROWNIES!

When I asked her about it, she said, oh, broccoli?! I thought you were being weird with your cooking so assumed it was desert.  I looked at the dish one more time to say to myself, it looks like desert.  No such luck, the bits of broccoli with evidently was still peaking through, and it even smelt of cooked broccoli.  The smell of almost "rotten" socks?

Normally, yes, I'm a very forgiving person, but when I'm called weird for exposing others indirectly of a new culture or idea without given much of a choice, I'm taken a back.  In any event, the dish was barely touched and the boyfriend took back chipotle broccoli kugel for the week.

Lesson learned: chipotle broccoli kugel is a desert to a small group of Indonesians