Sunday, February 28, 2010


The first time I'd ever had a popover was during my visit to Maine 2 years ago, at the Jordan Pond House. This delicious eggy, air-filled bread is a great alternative to the usual biscuits, muffins or scones at brunch. It reminds me a bit of Yorkshire pudding, but I think I like this better. Top with some butter and jam and eaten fresh out of the oven!

Recipe from (Reader's Digest Quick and Delicious Cookbook)

2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 425. Using an electric mixer, beat eggs till frothy. Beat in milk and oil. Beat in flour and salt. Let batter rest for 10 min
2. Grease 6 popover or medium sized muffin cups (you only want to fill the batter about 1/3-2/3 full, so you need larger muffin cups). Divide batter evenly.
3.Bake till puffed and browned (20-25 min). Serve immediately.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Mark Ryden: Meat show

I'm not much of a gallery-goer, but I AM a fan of Mark Ryden, so I may have to go see this show when it comes out. I own his "Blood" print series, but it'd be nice to see his artwork in person.

Mark Ryden @ Paul Kasmin Gallery
Olde Tyme Art Show
April 29th - June 5th

For those of you unfamiliar with his work, CLICK HERE

Friday, February 26, 2010

Dafni (Greek restaurant)

Located across from Port Authority on 42nd St, (between 8th and 9th), you wouldn't expect to find an even halfway decent restaurant. Especially one flanked by a Burger King, deli and Army Navy store. The only reason my husband and I discovered it is because it's right by our bus stop.

We've been to Dafni's four or five times now and we've never been disappointed by the food. For dinner, I would recommend waiting till after 7:30, when the crowds start to disperse.

My first step in over-eating is always the freshly baked basket of pita bread. So far we've only tried the fried calamari appetizer, but it's perfectly battered and crunchy, not chewy. One of our dishes always comes with a super simple, but delicious, Maroulosalata (romaine, scallion, dill with lemon vinaigrette). For entrees, I usually get their Lamb Shish Kebab, because it comes with one of the thickest, creamiest Tzatziki spreads I've had, accompanied by rice and roasted peppers and onions. I've also tried the Moussaka (think eggplant lasagna), which was good, but just too heavy. My husband has tried their Solomos, (charcoal grilled salmon steak), which he liked a lot, but his staple dish is the Aegean Seafood with Hilopites (shrimp, scallops and calamari with fresh pasta and tomato sauce).

For the first time today, we tried dessert: Rice pudding and Baklava the size of a piece of pie. Both were good, but passable.

Service can be a little slow, but the waiters are very attentive when you get a hold of them. The restaurant is surprisingly classy, considering the neighborhood, so you can definitely hold a nice dinner party at this place.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Caramel Apple Oatmeal Cookies

This recipe is mostly based on the oatmeal raisin cookie, from the book The Sweeter Side of Amy's Bread. Instead of raisins, I added chunks of caramel and dried apples. The original recipe by this name came from Cooking Light magazine. Unfortunately, it was a "healthy" cookie, and the dough was way too crumbly because it lacked enough butter to hold it together. So here's the full delicious fatty version:

1 1/2 cups flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

3 1/4 cup rolled oats

1 cup chopped dried apples

1/2 cup chopped soft caramel (roughly 16 candies)

1 cup butter (room temp)

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

Chop up the caramel. If you’re able to find caramel bits in your supermarket, lucky you, otherwise, I recommend a knife you don’t mind ruining and start chopping! Chop up your apples when you’re done.

Preheat oven to 350. Line your cookie sheets with Silpat or parchment paper, otherwise the caramel is going to make it extremely difficult to remove.

Mix the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon in one bowl

Beat the egg and vanilla in another bowl

Mix the oatmeal, apples and caramel in yet another bowl

Cream the butter and sugars. Add egg mixture, then the flour mixture in stages. And lastly the oat mixture.

Spoon onto cookie sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tofu White Bean Chili with Basil and Cilantro

This is a vegetarian-modified version of my sister's recipe. The original called for chicken broth and chopped chicken, rather than tofu and vegetable broth. My version I found a little bland, so I added lemon juice and mozzarella. The result is tangy and unique! One note: This is more like a bean soup than a chili. It has less body.

1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
3-4 T. olive oil
4 cups chopped cooked tofu (you can bake it or sauté it to dry it out and make it a little crusty)
3 cups vegetable broth
2 T. chopped cilantro or 1 T. dried cilantro
1 T. chopped basil or 1 tsp. dry basil
½ to 1 tsp. ground red chiles or cayenne pepper
¼ tsp. ground cloves
1 T. sea salt
32-oz. canned great northern beans, undrained
2 T. lemon juice
Chopped grape tomatoes to taste (they're more flavourful)
Shredded mozzarella to taste

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil. Transport to crock pot. Either bake or sauté tofu. Transport tofu to crock pot and add remaining ingredients, except tomato and mozzarella. Cook 3-4 hours. Top with chopped tomato and mozzarella (about 2 T per serving) and enjoy!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Quinoa and Apple Curry Salad

Quinoa is packed with protein and super versatile. This recipe is from Martha Stewart and is easy, refreshing, and delicious. I made it as a main course, but it'd be great with some sort of broiled white fish.

  • 1/4 cup raw whole almonds
  • 1 cup white quinoa
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons dried currants
  • 1 small McIntosh apple (really, you need the McIntosh "tang" so I don't think a gala or a fuji would work quite as well), cut into 1/8-inch-thick wedges
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped, plus more for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread almonds on a rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven until lightly toasted and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Let cool; coarsely chop nuts. Don't skip this step. Toasting almonds makes them magical.
  2. Rinse quinoa thoroughly in a fine sieve; drain. (If quinoa isn't rinsed thoroughly, it'll be bitter. Most quinoa is "triple-rinsed" though, so you may not need to do this step). Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add quinoa; return to a boil. Stir quinoa; cover, and reduce heat. Simmer until quinoa is tender but still chewy, about 15 minutes. Fluff quinoa with a fork; let cool.
  3. Whisk together honey, shallot, curry powder, salt, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Season with pepper. Whisking constantly, pour in oil in a slow, steady stream; whisk until dressing is emulsified. Add quinoa, currants, apple, mint, and nuts; toss well. Garnish with mint.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Crispy Coconut Shrimp

This is another really easy, fast recipe I got from Everyday Cooking, one of Martha Stewart's magazines:

1.5 cups of sweetened, shredded coconut
3/4 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
2 large egg whites
1.5 lbs of shrimp
oil for frying

1. In a food processor, pulse the coconut and breadcrumbs together, until the coconut is in small pieces. Transfer to shallow bowl.

2. Lightly beeat the egg whites

3. Toss shrimp with 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.

4. Dip in egg white, then coconut mixture and fry

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

beet skordalia dip

this is a recipe i adapted from a basic recipe i found online.
it not only adds some colour to the table, but is one of my constantly requested recipes. beet juice stains like crazy, so wear an apron.


2 cans of beets, drained
½ cup walnuts or almonds
2 garlic cloves
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon of horseradish (optional)

blend in food processor.

serve on bread or crackers.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Julia Child's "My Life in France"

Finished reading Julia Child's "My Life in France."
I loved the first two-thirds of the book, where she's exploring French culture and discovering her love of food and eventually of cooking. The book has such a light-hearted feel to it that I found myself in a good mood every time I picked it up to read. Her descriptions of people, places and food draw you right in there with her. I can't believe the amount of rich food they ate and while they sound delicious I think I'd have a serious stomach ache if I ate even half of what she describes.

The last third of the book deals with the struggle of writing her cookbook and getting it published. It got a little tedious but it was still interesting to read about. I always assumed all cookbooks follow the rigorous testing that Julia Child put her recipes through, but apparently that's not the case, so it makes me appreciate her work even more.

If you saw the movie Julie Julia it barely scratched the surface of what's in this book, so forget what you saw and read the book!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year is all about the food. My mom made a traditional noodle dish for lunch, accompanied by krupuk or shrimp cracker (bottom right) fried by my dad. Dessert consisted of tapioca coconut cake (top left) and pulot etam (bottom left), which literally translates as "black rice," a sort of rice pudding made with coconut milk and sugar. And of course there were tidbits lying around, like wasabi peas and preserved plums (which is a VERY acquired taste and which my husband almost spat out after trying a few years ago).

The banquet this year was at Tung Shing House, on Queens Blvd. Dinner was around 12 courses. Some of the better dishes are pictured below, like nian gao (new year rice cake), which I'd never had before, which was sliced and sauteed in what tasted like parsley. There was a sweet and sour fried fish, peking duck, salt and pepper lobster (another deep fried dish) and dessert consisted of my favorite rice-flour ball with black sesame filling, served warm in a sort of sugar/tea water.

My husband was brave enough to try the sea cucumber dish, which I wouldn't touch. We decided there's really no reason to ever eat the poor creature, since it's completely bland and well...pretty gross in consistency. I also wish they'd stop serving shark fin soup. It's another one of those "delicacies" that we can do without.

Overall, an enjoyable day. I think I enjoyed the food more than everyone else, because next year everyone's requested to return to Phoenix Garden, in Manhattan, which is probably our #1 Chinese restaurant pick in NY.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Pineapple Tarts

Tomorrow is Chinese New Year! While I know there will be plenty of food at the dinner my parents have planned, I decided to make pineapple tarts, a traditional Singaporean cookie. Their appearance varies, but I've always found the prettiest ones are the ones with a lattice on top and crimped edges. I had hoped to do that with mine, but the dough was too crumbly.

Here's the recipe. You'll notice she makes the other variety, which is completely enclosed in the crust. The recipe says it yields 25 cookies, but I managed to get 70 out of it, using the same quantities. My only variations were using crushed canned pineapple (versus rings, which need to be put through a food processor or blender). And I didn't add cornstarch to the pineapple.

This recipe take a while, so make sure you have time to kill!

Use a heavy bottom pan to cook the pineapple, or it will start to burn. You will need to cook it for at least 20 minutes to get it to a nice golden color and have the sugar start to caramelize.

The dough is similar to a pate brisee or flaky pastry dough (you can actually substitute if with those recipes if you prefer), which mean you shouldn't over mix it or over-handle it, or you'll lose the flaky quality. Form a ball to roll when it's just barely mixed and still crumbly.

One item I always use when baking on cookie sheets is Silpat. It's a non-stick surface, but the mesh inside also helps keep heat evenly distritubed. It's a little pricey, but worth it.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Home Coffee Roasting

This process takes about 10 minutes

I get my beans here:

I lb is the same price if not cheaper than Bustello or Starbucks.
and tastes SOOOO much better
Beware: Once you've tried this, you will turn into a coffee snob

-so check it, this is one pound

here's half of the bag in a mug, i gonna roast these guys, and you'll see that they expand 2X

What we got here is a "spinny pop"
(usually used for popcorn... 20.00)
you can turn the handle, but
using a wooden guy works better for me and
doesn't harm the surface... just stir stir stir, pop pop


I love mini things. Particularly food. Thankfully I am able to restrain myself and have only bought these: (mini bubble tea w/egg custard and fruit desserts. Donuts w/coffee and tiny sugar packets!! And tiny sushi, complete with tiny miso and spoon).

Those are all machine made. The REAL artists are these polymer clay crafters on Etsy. Their attention to detail is phenomenal. They manage to get just the right amount of shine, sponginess, and translucence to their creations. For xmas I asked for a book on creating polymer clay food, but it's almost too daunting to start. So enjoy some work by the professionals AiClay and Petitplat

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Quickie Quiche

I get home at 8pm, so I'm always looking to make dinner as fast as possible. Quiche is one of my standard quick recipes. I always have pre-made pie shells in the freezer for that reason. I prefer the deep-dish kind just to avoid overflows. Normally I go with spinach, because it binds best with the egg, but I had some baby bella mushrooms available so I thought I'd change it up a bit.

This recipe is a variation on the one found in Joy of Cooking:
3 eggs
1 cup of milk or heavy cream

1 pkg of mushrooms

1 frozen pie shell

1 cup of cheese
(gruyere is my favorite, but I only had cheddar today)
salt/pepper/pinch of nutmeg/sprinkle of dried rosemary

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Melt a Tbsp of butter in a pan and sautee mushrooms. Sprinkle in rosemary. You MUST cook the mushrooms until all the liquid comes out and evaporates. If you don't you'll end up with a soggy quiche.
3. Your oven should have reached the proper temperature by now, so put in your empty frozen pie shell. You want it to bake it very lightly, just so it dries out before you put in your ingredients (again, this is to prevent sogginess)
4. Beat your eggs. Mix in the milk, cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
5. Take the pie shell out of the oven. Spread the mushroom over the bottom of the shell. Pour the egg mixture over top. Pop it in the oven and bake for 40-45 min.

Serve with a healthy side salad!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Bodhi Tree: $7 lunch special

$7 lunch special: 2 appetizers and an entree. Thai food.
3rd Ave between 10th and 11th

Thanks to Hilda, this place is now on our weekly lunch agenda. So far, no real disappointments. I recommend the Eggplant Graprow (sauteed eggplant and tofu w/spicy basil chili sauce) and the Tod Man appetizer (spicy fish cake) and I believe Hilda liked the Taro Wontons. The Pad Thai is pretty standard. I think we're planning on working our way down the menu. We've covered most of the appetizers already in our 3 visits. This place has nice decor and looks pricier than it is, as you can see from their official site:

KIWI sorbet

This recipe requires no ice-cream maker!, just a blender;)

OK so you're gonna need
1 cup sugar
10 kiwis
2 lemons
optional: corn syrup

Dissolve sugar in cup of water in saucepan

Zest lemon, (about 1 tsp worth), then roll lemon and squeeze that juice in there (the blender)... add your roughly chopped kiwi (or any other fruit for that matter) to the blender. pour your syrup guy in the blender and whirl!!!!

OK then put in freezer (in a metal bowl or something) for an hour. It's gonna turn rock hard, so you you gotta put it back into the blender (to get more air in there) and let chill again for another 2 hours b4 serving.

secret: adding a small amount of fine vodka will keep it scoopable for months, some people add corn syrup to prevent rock hard frozen sorbet, but hey, good vodka doesnt freeze and you wont get drunk, heh it's just a good anti-freezing agent. Probably healthier than corn syrup, no?

You'll never go to a sushi restaraunt again...

OK first stop. Sunrise Mart.

Always good to have a rice cooker around, always keeps rice warm and takes up almost no electricity. It's great for "lazy food"... just put anything on top of rice and eat!

But It's sushi roll time! Here's the spread from left to right
soy sauce
rice vinegar
sticky rice
nori (seaweed)
sesame oil
sesame seed

optional: fish sauce (for marinating whatever you put in there

bamboo rolly guy
optional: chopsticks
required: clean hands and surface

1: So cut each sheet of seaweed in half (the long way) with clean scissors.
2: put nori on bamboo roller (no need to wet it)
3: Grab a golfball sized amount of sticky rice and spread it out, closer to towards you.
4: put whatever madness you want in there
5: best technique is to roll it like a square, also thumbs in center, other fingers closer to edges..
6: slice with sharp knife
7: host a sushi party!!!!!! Once you have all the ingredients (about 15.00), they last forever! Can you get a plate like this for 5.00 anywhere but home?
8: (tip): for the rolls with rice on the outside, cover the bamboo rolly with clingwrap, and sprinkle sesame seeds or whatever on outside

Monday, February 8, 2010

Super Fast Apple Cake/Cobbler

I'm not sure where my mom got this recipe from, but I've had it typed out on a crumpled piece of paper since college. It's really easy to make, especially if you need a last-minute dessert . It's closer to a cobbler, than cake, because the batter mostly stays on top, forming a biscuit-like crust. This isn't an overly sweet dessert, so add vanilla ice cream if you need the extra sugar rush. It ain't pretty looking, but your stomach won't care.

3 apples, peeled/cored and thickly sliced, sprinkled with lemon juice (I used 4 today, but if you prefer an even ratio of fruit and batter, use 3)
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
8 Tbsp butter, melted
1 cup flour
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to350. Arrange apples in 9-inch pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Melt butter and mix with flour, sugar (except 2 Tbsp) and egg. Spread over apples. Sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake for 40-45 minutes.