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Homemade Herbs de Provence & Tomato Mustard Tart

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Tomato mustard tart is a classic French dish that is perfect for summer. It is surprisingly complex in flavor despite simplicity in preparation. You wouldn't think fresh tomatoes goes on crusty pastry, and you wouldn't think you'd like to be punched in the nose by what looks like way too much mustard. (and trust me nose-punch it will - but you will like it!) The whole concept defies reasoning. It looks like pizza without sauce & sounds like hamburger without meat. But this stuff is seriously addicting. Try it once and you'll be hooked!

I'm making a smaller tart with half a sheet of pastry because I really prefer this tart hot & don't enjoy it as much re-heated. Feel free to double the portion if you're serving a large party.

Ingredients:

1/2 sheet of puff pastry
4 tbsp dijon mustard (or however much it takes to spread the entire tart with a thick layer)
4 tbsp grated parmigiano reggiano
2 tsp herbs de provence (*see recipe & notes below) 
1~2…

Shortcut Curry: Chicken & Egg Masala

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I like my Indian food like I like my Szechuan food: it's not right unless it's a spice level above my comfort zone. I expect to be reaching for napkins and ice water. For this reason, jarred curry sauces are far more often disappointing than satisfying to me. If I wanted a curry that does not make me sweat I would be making a Japanese curry (which is also absolutely delicious, just an entirely different dish that doesn't curb the right craving).

Making my own Indian curry entirely from scratch, however, is still a tad more hassle than I would have liked at the end of a workday. So reviving the jarred sauce is a happy median for me. My Indian ex-roommate once taught me how to make Kerala-style egg roast. Turns out the secret is just onions and 3 powders. (She may very well have gone with a shortcut, as one would expect of a busy nyc professional.)  If you ever debated between chicken and egg curry at an Indian restaurant as I too often do, here's the awesome part of h…

One Can, Two Treats - Easy Hummus & Matcha Aquafaba Ice Cream!

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Stop over paying for hummus! Your store brand canned garbanzo bean can make a hummus as good, if not much better than the pre-made stuff more than triple its price. The whole process takes no more than 5 minutes. What's better - you can control what goes into your hummus - how much salt, oil, what kind of spice, etc. I blended my garbanzo bean with no added oil, and it's perfectly creamy without any added fat. Of course, I topped my hummus with spice and herbs and a final drizzle of EVOO for the pictures, but it is seriously optional for taste/texture. I didn't think low fat hummus would taste as good but it does! (<-- if you need any more incentive to make your own hummus at home!)

As a byproduct, the drained bean liquid, aka 'aquafaba' (or 'bean water'),  can be whipped into a smooth meringue. Do it for amusement, impress your vegan friends, or just give it a try to satisfy your inner hippie/cheapo for utilizing what seems like pure waste. I will say …

Easier Financiers, in proportions you can't forget!

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This is an updated version of my previously posted financiers. I made these for a potluck and everyone wanted recipe! I tweaked these for an easier-to-remember recipe. Just half the dry ingredients each time, plus butter and egg-whites. Super easy to remember, as easy as they are to make!

Ingredients:

6 egg whites
1 stick butter, browned
1 cup almond powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 flour

Instruction: 

Heat butter on medium low heat until browned. Add almond powder & sugar to egg whites. Mix until combined. Add brown butter; mix well. Finally add flour, lightly whisk until just combined. Fill the molds ~2/3 of the way through; spread batter out evenly with a skewer if needed. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes. If using metal molds, unmold while warm; if using silicon mold, broil the cakes up-side-down for 3~5 minutes after unmolding for a crispy edge.

Video Instruction:



Useful tools: silicon mold: https://amzn.to/2PLbrKH non-stick metal mold: https://amzn.to/2CXcR1L bulk metal mold: https://amzn.…

Venetian-Style Squid Ink Pasta (spaghetti al nero di seppia)

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Impress your guests with this exotic dish that is deceptively simple! Derived from my best memory of Venice (and out of necessity here in the US - difficult to find outside nyc or sf, & pretty much impossible to get it on the cheap). This recipe can be done in 15 minutes.

As usual, this is the lazy bum's approach - I'm not cleaning a cuttlefish and collecting ink. Buy a jar of squid ink from your local whole foods (or similar specialty grocery, or amazon) and get pre-cleaned cuttlefish - previously frozen is perfectly fine. Get the pasta boiling and start with a sofrito base; saute squid or cuttlefish in the base; add squid ink and a broth (I'm using clam juice, seafood stock or even vegetable broth would work just as well)

A sofrito is a blend of aromatics, I would say the only essential component here is olive oil, garlic, and onions. You can dial back the tomatoes and pepper if you're not a big fan of sweet and spicy, or if you have an empty pantry. (Tomato pas…

Quick, Light, & Satisfying Weekday Dinner: One-Pot Beef Udon

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A trip to Japan had us hooked on beef udon. We ate to our heart's content and somehow still lost weight on the trip. After pigging out during Chinese New Year, we went on the udon 'diet' for a week. I was happy this is an easy one-pot meal to prepare after work, and the husband was delighted at warm noodle soup on cold winter night.

Ingredients:

1 lb beef, thinly sliced
1 scallion, chopped

marinade:
2 tbsp sake
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar

broth: * for 2 servings
2 cups water 
2 tsp dashi powder (dehydrated kelp & fish stock)
1 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp soy sauce

2 pack frozen udon

recommended sides:
crispy hash browns
poached eggs
croquettes



Instruction:

Whisk marinade ingredients together; rub thinly sliced beef in marinade and let it sit for 5~10 minutes. Stir fry the scallion until lightly browned. Add the beef and cook on medium high, until meat is no longer red and surface is slightly charred; about 4~6 minutes. Remove the beef & add 2 cups of water to t…

Celebrate Chinese New Year with Easy Eight-Treasure Rice & Steamed Rice Cakes!

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I made a basket of hometown goodies for a Chinese New Year party, and my non-hometown coworkers requested recipes! Here are 2 simplified version of traditional southern Chinese rice desserts with my own twists. 

Eight-treasure rice: (missing many common 'treasures', but lotus seed and picked plums are kinda out of everyone's way to get; there are no hard rules anyways, as long as you have 8 ingredients it counts, & even if you don't it's just as delicious!)

Ingredients:

for the rice:
1/2 cup forbidden rice
1/2 cup purple sticky rice
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp butter

for the filling:
2oz purple yam
2 tbsp coconut milk
1 tsp brown sugar (or to taste, depending on how sweet your yam is)

toppings: dates & walnut

Instruction:
Cook the forbidden rice & purple sticky rice together in a rice cooker. Use the brown rice setting if you have it.
While the rice is cooking, make the filling. Slice & steam a purple yam for ~20 min, or until softened. Smash it w…