Tag Archives: food porn

Garlicky Black Bean Beef Chow Fun

Garlicky Black Bean Beef Chow Fun

Garlicky Black Bean Beef Noodles

And how was your summer!?!?! Did you do awesome cooking? Always so great to enjoy the gorgeous produce. I served my version of beef chow fun a few weeks ago, to feed a crowd of hungry, tired beach-goers, also known as my family.

garlic and black beans

garlic and black beans

carrots

carrots

onion and garlic

onion and garlic

rice noodles

rice noodles

veggies

veggies

beef

beef

green onions

green onions

Garlicky Black Bean Beef Noodles

  • dash of sugar;
  • dash of salt;
  • garlic;
  • dao si (black salted, fermented soy beans – be sure to get them dry and whole, not mashed up!);
  • oyster sauce;
  • fish sauce;
  • soy sauce;
  • green onions;
  • sliced carrots;
  • a large, sweet yellow onion;
  • a few ounces of beef;
  • a ton of green cabbage; and
  • a 2 lb package of fresh, flat, rice noodles.

First, chop all the veggies. Then cut the beef against the grain into thin strips. After mincing the black beans and slicing the garlic, be sure to get a large, round rock and mash the garlic into the black beans. Because my mom said so! That way, you are truly marrying the flavors, even before they get to the skillet. Get a large bowl and fill halfway with hot water – this is for soaking the fresh rice noodles. You will notice that they are somewhat brittle. Let them soak as you stir fry everything else – and make sure that these get soft before frying. Stir fry the garlic, black beans, onion together. I used a large, flat skillet. Add the beef. Then the sauces (soy, oyster, fish), sugar, and salt. Then the cabbage and carrots. Add the noodles absolutely last – note that they contain oil, so, you might not even need to add much oil to the pan to fry them properly. Handle the noodles very carefully, as they are prone to breaking.

This feeds a lot of people in a short amount of time. You should add some heat to this dish with a little bit of fresh jalapeno or dried chiles – I left those out because there were kids in the mix. Also, there was no white wine around, but I think it might have been nice to add a dash or two, to help mellow everything out.  The dao si definitely adds an earthy, bitter, tangy note, which plays off the sweetness of the cabbage, onion, and carrots perfectly. These all frame the beef and noodles beautifully. How does it taste? Thumbs up from everybody! Yes, even the toddlers who tried it!

Serve it and get ready for adoration and fame that will surely follow!!!

Okonomiyaki and my gratitude (for 20,000 views!)

I’m still on blog-cation but I thought I couldn’t let 20,000 views pass by without saying hello and by golly, thank you!!!* So thank you for reading, commenting, linking. THANK YOU!!! You know it totally makes my day to obsessively check my sitemeter and see that someone in Salt Lake / Perth / Bombay / Tokyo / Lima / Sao Paulo was reading my blog for 25 minutes! And to get comment luv. Awww, it’s great!!!

While I’m here, I should show the lentils I sprouted, as well as the riff on okonomiyaki I did with them. Is is really okonomiyaki if I just put stuff into a pancake, and ate it with Worchestershire sauce on top – without the genuine soup and other such? Yes, I know I’m taking liberties – so, feel free to see Just Hungry’s more comprehensive recipe here. But if you are lazy like me and want to just have a whiff of that Osaka sensibility with minimal work….read on!!! (Instead of “lazy” you can always use the word “busy” – works just as well!)

Sprouted Lentils, in a Colander

Sprouted Lentils, in a Colander

How to Sprout Lentils

It’s pretty easy. Soak 1 cup of lentils overnight. The next day, rinse and drain. Then loosely wrap the lentils in a few layers of paper towels (or I guess cheesecloth would work too). Leave the wrapped parcel in a shallow bowl. Check on it everyday – keep the lentils slightly wet by dripping enough water. Mine were “done” in about 5 days. Makes 5 cups of sprouts.

Pancake Mix

Pancake Mix

In the Pan

Lentil Sprouts with Pancake Mix

In the Pan

Okonomiyaki in the Making!

on the plate

Slice of Okonomiyaki, plated (pre-Worchestershire Sauce)

Slackerrific Impromptu Okonomiyaki

  • 5 cups of sprouts; (from 1 cup of dried brown lentils = 1/4 lb = about 20 cents)
  • 1 cup of soy milk; (about 50 cents)
  • 1/2 cup of prepared pancake mix; (I think this was still too much batter – likely better to just use about 1/4 cup);
  • 1 egg; (about 16 – 18 cents)
  • Worchestershire sauce to taste.

Wash and dry those sprouts. Because you have been watching over them as vigilantly as hawk, you will have very few “bad” sprouts – rotten / dry / etc. Pick through and discard. Mix the soy milk, pancake mix, and egg into a very large mixing bowl. Mix. Add the sprouts Fold them in. If you have other good stuff, this is the time to throw it in – I think shredded cabbage would be great here too. Heat up a skillet. You can do what I did – made a huge one – or make a few smaller ones. Totally up to you.

Pour the mixture into the pan according to the size you desire. The sprouts will wilt a bit. Check the bottom of the okonomiyaki by slipping the spatula underneath – what color is it? Golden brown? Time to flip it! Flip it. Then do the same check. Eat immediately! Slosh generously with Worchestershire sauce. Makes three – four servings. Takes less than 1/2 hr.

Next time, I’ll use less batter, and will add more more more stuff, like maybe some protein (tofu / chicken / etc.) How did it taste? Well, you can definitely enjoy the sprouts – earthy, not quite crunchy, yet offering some small resistance to one’s teeth. My diners gave it big, big thumbs up! I liked it. Well, maybe because it was breakfasty. Also, anything that gets browned in a skillet with starch is likely to win my heart. (like those jack mackerel cakes! and that spinach frittata!) I think the lentils plus the soy milk makes it very very filling and satisfying.

And now, I’ll include here a totally gratuitous picture of Watermelon Kanten. Yeah, it’s good. Why? Because you have that almost-crunchy resistence of the watermelon flesh, then the give of the kanten. Ok! I’m back on blog-cation now!

Watermelon Kanten Watermelon Kanten

* Right now, this blog has over 19,000 views, and I expect it to reach views 20,000 in a few days, since it’s averaging about 2000 ~ 2500 views/month. (And I remember when I used to get 180 views per month!!! – and it still boggled my mind that anyone would read this blog back then! I don’t even force my dearest friends and family to read it!) Thank you so much for reading!!!

Update: one of my dear kin tells me that my enthusiasm for the number of views I’ve gotten is a bit impassioned, to the degree of causing laughter on her part. Surely you cannot take me too seriously! Doesn’t everybody remember Sally Fields’s 1985 Oscar acceptance speech?

Brining Helped My Chicken Curry

Neighbor’s Red Poppy

I want a little more excitement in my chicken dishes. Maybe brining will come to my rescue? The way it surely saved my Thanksgiving a few years back – it was so amazingly moist and tasty – my first time roasting a turkey!!! Fourteen pounds of Butterball, I believe. I was very intimidated. I was cooking for 12 friends. I was making the foundational dishes: turkey, gravy, stuffing, pumpkin pie, cranberry salad, mashed potatoes and possibly even fried rice – just to be safe. Oh, no pressure or anything!

I used Emeril’s recipe (leaving out the thyme) for brine and it turned out great!!! I remember thinking, “They have no idea I how much I agonized over the gravy…and they love the turkey.” The bird turned out to be the easiest part!!! I kept asking my diners to sample the gravy because I worried they might not like it, but somebody finally said that it was not necessary because the turkey was actually good – not tough or dry. Oh, life’s not fair, but then again, nobody ASKED me to spend 90 minutes stirring the gravy like a maniac. Well, that’s enough reminiscing. I have poultry issues of the moment to dispatch.

It’s very common to brine for “big” occasions, like Thanksgiving or some dinner party when you are serving roasted poultry. But why not brine to fight off the blah of the everyday? My challenge: long, forgotten, freezer-burnt chicken quarters. Too much freezing dries out the chicken. I’m not sure they had much chicken-ness left. No harm in trying to coax it out, though!

So, I brined the chicken overnight.

Brining Solution (for 3 chicken quarters)

  • 9 cups of water;
  • 1/3 cup of sea salt (table salt is not recommended by the authoritative cooks and I won’t argue);
  • 1/4 cup of “raw” sugar.

(If you are curious about the science of brining, Dave Scantland gives a great explanation of the science behind the miracle of salty water on eGullet.) And then of course, I made curry out of the chicken.

One Pot Madras Chicken*

  • 2 cups of onion (1 large onion);
  • 9 cloves of garlic;
  • about 2.5 cubic inches of ginger;
  • 2 lbs of potatoes (I sliced 6 smallish – medium Idahos in halves and quarters);
  • 5 tablespoons of madras curry powder;**
  • 3 glugs of ngouc mam (fish sauce) to taste; and
  • 3 chicken quarters, each cut into 3 parts (about 4 lbs);
  • dash of sugar;***
  • vegetable oil; and
  • a very large skillet.

Note that you might want to lower the amount of ginger. I LOVE ginger, and it was very very gingery. I would even wager to say that the ginger factor added quite a bit heat.

* I’ve previously posted instructions for Madras Chicken for the slow cooker, including approximate cost breakdowns, so mea culpas to those who might have read it already. Brown the chicken, about 4 minutes per side. Let the brown bits stuck to the pan stay (it will be your “fond”). Take the chicken pieces out of the pan. Then, brown the curry powder in a few tablespoons of vegetable oil (but not olive oil, because you won’t taste it – and it might burn). Then sweat the onions, garlic and ginger. Then add the curry powder. Then the ngouc mam and about two cups of water and scrape the bits from the bottom of the pan. Get it boiling. Add the potatoes and chicken. Add enough water to barely cover about 3/4 of the chicken height. Get it boiling hot. Simmer, simmer, simmer, on very very low for about 90 minutes. Your house will smell GOOD! And very strongly so. If you burn anything in the process, be sure to cut off the burnt parts and return the unburnt portions to the pan. Serve with rice. *** I didn’t add any sugar, but, I think I should have.

I think the brining helped a lot. The chicken was tender and moist – not dry at all – almost falling off the bone. The potatoes are silky smooth, with a little resistance still. Very nice, if I may say so myself!

* Suraj powder is quite inexpensive, if you can get your hands on it – about $1.59 for a POUND! Sold in Canadian supermarkets, I believe.

Highland Cafe & Bakery (blissful altar of breakfast post #4)

Fish and Chips

From the outside, it just looks like a normal restaurant. You expect (and you get) meatloaf, bacon and eggs, walleye, etc., your classic Midwestern Americana. And it’s good, solid stuff. It’s CONSISTENTLY good. The owner earned his chops at the behemoth of Twin Cities breakfasting, Keys Cafe. Oh, but it’s better than Keys.*

I love it. One by one, my friends succumb to my indoctrinations about the greatness of the Highland Park Cafe and Bakery. They also fall in love. We are usually ordering around dinnertime, but, I order “breakfast” dishes on countless occasions. And I become addicted to their homemade strawberry rhubarb jam. Oh yeah, it’s GOOD. I see a glimmer of brilliance. Hm…

Sausage, Egg, Toast Breakfast with homemade strawberry rhubarb jam

But wait a second…the soup is to die for. Should you ever get your hands on the clam chowder, well…your life will never be the same. No really, it won’t. It is absolutely MAGICAL. I grew up in a beach town, a FISHING town, with access to clam chowder of every kind – every child should know that there are “red” and “white” chowders by the age of 8. No, none, none of them could hold a candle to this unexpected jewel. How can seafood be better so far from the oceans!?!?! A mystery.

The clam chowder sells out so quickly, my friend tells me that I should call the place to make sure there are two bowls of it left. And yeah…I actually DO IT! My impulses have have been PTSD-related. You see, after one evening there because…well…there was only ONE bowl left. My memory is fuzzy, but, I like to think I was the bigger person and went without clam chowder that evening, so that my friend could partake.

And then, one day, visiting the restaurant, I see words like “kofte” and “lassi” stuck in the middle of a menu. My eye stops! What’s going on? Apparently, HPC&B serves some Nepalese dishes. I have tried the momos (both vegetarian and meat versions) and the curry – they are all DELICIOUS!!!

Chicken Curry

Momos, with spicy tomato dipping sauce

Dessert. Very very important. I’ve had chocolate cake of various sorts there. Berry pies. They are good. But one day, I try the bread pudding. Oh, it’s so good. The “secret” is simple: they use their own caramel rolls as the “bread” for the pudding. These caramel rolls. Oh, they are absolute genius. One of my indoctrinated friends used to buy rolls to take home to eat on the weekends for breakfast!!! They are DIVINE. Truly.

Bread pudding, with apples, ice cream, whipped cream, and caramel sauce

So, if you are ever in the Highland Park neighborhood of Saint Paul and want to be delighted, try it. You might just love it.

Highland Park Cafe & Bakery
1931 Ford Pky
St Paul, MN 55116
(651) 698-3400

(testimonials from chowhound)

* The caramel rolls, everything, even the liver and onions is better at HPC&B.

Part 4 in a series of my posts about establishments serving breakfast:

  1. Jay’s Café of St. Paul, MN (blissful altar of breakfast #1)
  2. Al’s Breakfast of Minneapolis, Minnesota: prosaic American breakfast as an art form (blissful altar of breakfast post #2)
  3. South Asian Foods, giving you halwa puri, yes, in Fridley, MN (blissful altar of breakfast post #3)

You might also enjoy reading about poaching eggs: Luxurious, Lazy and Thrifty – Poached Eggs

Kotonk Chow Fan // Spam Fried Rice

Beware of Hawaiians. They will laugh at your “mainlander” accent. They thought I talked funny because I am a kotonk. I speak native Californian! Meanwhile, they spoke pidgin. Who’s right? Ah, when in Rome…do as the Romans do. And in Hawaii, that means, fall in love with Spam. From the Honolulu Star-Bulletin:

Hawaii residents consume nearly 7 million cans of Spam a year, an average of about six cans for every man, woman and child.

Not a fan of spam musubi (mandatory for Hawaiian residency). But, I do love it in my fried rice, as do many Hawaiians. Putting spam in your fried rice is a modern nod to the more traditional char siu. Plus – spam costs a lot less!

Kotonk Fried Rice

  • 3 cups of cooked, refrigerated Japanese rice;
  • 1/4 of a full container of Spam (thanks mapgirl!) ham / other savory meat-like thing;
  • 4 green onions, sliced moderately thin;
  • 2 eggs, beaten like they owe you money;
  • salt and pepper – be generous!

Use your favorite skillet – for this, I used a cast iron pan. I like to start off by frying the Spam. Then, add the rice – use your spatula vigorously! Add vegetable oil whenever necessary. Ideally, you would scramble the eggs separately, but, let’s not get too crazy here. Add the green onions when the rice is hot and the eggs are scrambled. These will wilt in a matter of seconds. You are done! Season with plenty of salt and pepper!

(My mis en place…well…minus the rice, salt, pepper and vegetable oil for frying…)

(action shot of beating the eggs)

(plated, just for you!)

P.S. I’m going to have to do the price calculations later. But, I think this is quite inexpensive to prepare! I think 1/4 of a container of Spam is going to work out to less than $1.00.

My Mom’s Kohi Kanten – Coffee Pudding (Vegan – and about $.10 per serving!)

Kanten…so many reasons I love it:

  1. it’s a naturally ZERO calorie food. That’s right. I said, ZERO!
  2. it’s filling and yet not wiggly-jiggly (unlike gelatin);
  3. even the laziest prep yields yummilicious results; and
  4. I grew up eating it!

Below is a picture of agar agar in stick form.

At any Asian market you can find premixed packets of almond kanten for less than 2 or 3 dollars – really tasty with even the least interesting fruit cocktail. Growing up, we had that all the time. Perfect summertime dessert. Nice and cool! But avoid buying agar agar at Whole Foods. I have seen the Eden versions for almost 6 dollars!!! You should be able to buy the stick agar agar for $2.00 or less per 10 grams (.35 oz). the urban vegan recommends buying the stick format and sticking the sticks into the food processor to make flakes.* I’m used to the stick forms, but, I think this is a great tip for people accustomed to the flake format. Also, people can get quite glamorous with agar agar (also known as kanten in Japanese). I am stockpiling ideas for what do with it. And coffee kanten is a classic (kohi = coffee in Japanese). So here it is!

Mom’s Kohi Kanten

  • 2 cups of boiling coffee – sweeten to taste (pennies);
  • 5 grams of powdered agar agar (about 1/2 of a stick of agar agar – about $.50 worth); and
  • coconut milk – this is optional (about 10 teaspoons – roughly 1/4th of a 13 oz can – $1.59 = $.40 cents worth).

Dissolve the agar agar in the boiling hot coffee in a saucepot. Mix mix mix. Add your sweetener. Mix. Pour the piping hot mixture into a pie plate. Alright, just cover and chill it for about 2 hours. Done. It’s traditional to cut it into squares (as you see above). Splash on a teaspoon of coconut milk per serving. If you have them around, put a roasted coffee bean on top. Makes eight~ ten servings, depending on the size (less than $.10 per serving – half of that if you do not use the coconut milk of course). Be sure to have this with some lovely tea!

(you can also cool it into cute little cups for individual servings)

* the urban vegan’s post is actually VERY helpful for gaining a good understanding of agar agar. Read it and let the erudition flow!

P.S. I don’t really follow diet news, so, maybe someone can tell me if there are any standards for what is “low-carb”? My very casual research shows me that the FDA hasn’t made a decision yet, but, I’m guessing that might not be the latest info.

Update: VegCookingBlog, thanks for linking to this post! My stats are blowing up :-) !!!! I’ve also written a post on making Mango Kanten.

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Housekeeping notes:

(1) I’ve added a “Tips” page to the blog to park handy things I learn about (and/or blog about). For example, last week, limes went on sale – 10 for a dollar. So…I’m not going to use ten in a given week…and they don’t last forever…but they can last longer if you slice them and freeze them. Like so:

Might be better to peel skin off – haven’t tried it that way yet. Works grrrrreat in iced tea. (This is a tip contributed by my mom.)

(2) Not sure why, but Feedburner sent off an old post (from April ’07) on May 10. It wasn’t my doing! I’ll try to find out why that happened.

Luxurious, Lazy and Thrifty – Poached Eggs

If you have a little vinegar, and a small pot, you can have the most glorious poached eggs. Do you need silky golden yolk slipping away from a firm white? Don’t get me started!

Poaching away. Happily.

Adorned with a stripe of salt and black pepper.

Digging in!!!

Lately, I have been thinking about lowering my fat intake by just a little bit. Having fried eggs all the time is no path to glory. So I thought I might try poaching eggs instead. Many many ugly eggs later, victims of my experiments, I realized I needed perhaps to actually learn how people do it. I got a serious bee in my bonnet after fixating on …Lisa’s… eat, drink and be a fat bastard photostream on Flickr, where she displays her first proper set of poached eggs. I was totally inspired! After a few more tries, I feel like I have it down to a science!*

Poached Eggs

  • 2 eggs; (about $.16)
  • water in a pot, enough to cover the eggs by 1/2″ or so – about 2 cups;
  • 1 tablespoon of vinegar (the very cheapest distilled or apple cider is fine – mere pennies, if at all).

Bring the water to a boil. Shut off the heat. Wait until the bubbles stop. Add the vinegar. Crack each egg carefully and slip them in. Wait about 5 minutes, if you like them a teensy bit runny (as I do). Fish them out of the pot with a flat spatula. If you have some roasted garlic or garlic butter lying about, drop a teaspoon or two on the eggs. I like my poached eggs with some pita bread (about $.10 per pita) – costs less if you use regular bread (shown above with a toasted white roll). Lot of goodness for less than fifty cents. Enjoy!!!

*With practice, it’s totally multi-tasking friendly. For example, the other day, I started the water, made a short phone call, checked email, plopped in the eggs. I was done with the eggs at the end of the call!