Instant Pot Soy Braised Beef Shank

This is a simplified (& speed up) version of a classic Chinese dish.
Shank is an economy cut of beef full of tendon, which contains large amount of collagen. It is super tough when quick-seared, but melts apart when slow cooked. Cooked down tendon adds richness and body to a stew, despite being surprisingly low fat and high protein. This budget cut is very flavorful when cooked with some patience. They usually take 90 minutes ~ 2 hours stove top, but a pressure cooker can get it done in ~35 minutes.


1/4 cup soy paste
1 tbsp of brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground star anise
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground numbing pepper
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp crushed ginger
1/4 tsp crushed garlic

2lb beef shank, lightly salted on all sides
4~6 cups water, add enough for braising liquid to cover the beef

add to braising liquid:
4 orange peels (about that of 1/4 medium orange)
3 bay leaves
2 whole hot chili peppers

*jarred crushed ginger and garlic are perfect …

Cherry Almond Tart (Frangipane)

It's cherry season again! Everything about the plant from the blossoms to the fruits makes humanity write poems mourning fleeting youth and short-lived good times. Hope you're seizing the season this year! Binge on them while you can!

Fresh cherries always feel too good for me to throw into a turnover or syrupy pie, where they'll end up tasting a lot like frozen. If I'm baking cherries it needed to be recipe that somewhat preserves the texture and makes fresh fruits shine. This is my version of slightly lighter-than-traditional frangipane, to help you celebrate the summer harvest. If you don't have cherries, any stone fruit (such as peach or plum) will work just as well.

Ingredients: (enough for two shallow 9-inch tart)

For the crust:
1 stick cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg

For the filling:
1 stick softened butter
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 flour
2 eggs
1 cup fresh cherries


Start with the crust: Cut butt…

Easy Fancy: Budget Truffle Pasta

Truffle pasta is easily among everyone's favorite memories of Italy. It is simple to make, and ridiculously expensive in restaurants, which makes it perfect for home cooking. As far as ingredients go, this recipe is a tad more costly than cacio e pepe, but very much reasonable, as it uses jarred truffle, which cost a fraction of the fresh stuff. A $20 jar of whole or sliced truffles could easily make 5~6 servings. Keep in mind jarred truffle won't be as wonderfully aromatic as fresh, and whole truffles have kind of a hard, brittle texture. They won't infuse into the pasta very quickly, yet you want to avoid tossing them too much. For best presentation & flavor, thinly shave the truffles and soak the slices in a good olive oil. Let the olive oil pick up the truffle scent and soften the slices a little. The olive oil will help infuse the truffle flavor to the pasta sauce, and softened slices are less likely to break.

Try this next time you want to impress your guests! …

Weekday Pho, Half-assing FTW

I made a big-ass bone-in ribeye the day before, because I could not pass up a good sale, and there's something inexplicably satisfying about cutting into a steak that is ridiculously thick, at least to my husband. Unfortunately this indulgence left us with quite a bit of leftover.

This is my newest hack to deal with medium-cooked, not-so-easy-to-reheat leftover steak: shortcut pho with powdered spices and boxed broth. The whole thing takes less than half an hour to prepare, curbs the craving, and makes great use of leftover meat and/or herbs. This is a quick alternative to spending 3~5 hours making the real-deal broth. The spice combination will get the basic flavor profile there. Give this a try next time you crave pho on a weekday night!


1 tsp crushed ginger (jarred or frozen perfectly fine)
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp star anise powder
1/4 tsp fennel seed powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tbsp oil

1 quart beef bone broth
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp …

Homemade Herbs de Provence & Tomato Mustard Tart

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.


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) 

Shortcut Curry: Chicken & Egg Masala

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!

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 …