May 26, 2010

"Crab" Salad

In case you were wondering, the quotation marks were intentional.

While this would in fact work with real crab meat, this was made with imitation crab sticks - the same stuff they use in Japanese Restaurants. In fact, this was something I had from our local Japanese take-out place, and I thought, "well I can do that!"

It a wonderful spring and summer side dish and extremely easy to make with the right tools. You need a very good mandolin for this, I suggest a Benriner. This thing is so sharp it's actually kind of scary to use. If you don't have a mandolin, you can use a food processor with the correct julienne attachment. Besides tasting lovely, it also happens to be pretty and colorful (as you can see below - looks like orange pasta huh?)

I've only ever had this made with mayo, but I'm actually not a mayo fan. So I substituted plain yogurt. Of course, if your not apposed to mayo, feel free to use it.

Kani Salad

2 cups finely julienned carrots
2 cups shredded crab sticks (you can get these frozen in almost any Asian market, I've even seen them in some of the  larger supermarkets now too. To "shred" them, make sure they are room temperature. Unwrap one and gently roll it between your hands to loosen it. It should be very easy now to just pull apart, they should be as thin or just slightly thicker than your carrots)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons Tobiko (flying fish roe, I found orange, but its also died yellow, red, or green - color doesn't matter. If you cant find it at all, add another tablespoon of sesame seeds)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon sesame oil
6 oz. fat free plain yogurt (do NOT get the thick Greek stuff, you want this thin, hence the addition of lemon juice)

-Combine carrots and crab in a non-metal bowl.
-Mix together the yogurt, oil and lemon juice.
-Add yogurt mixture to crab and carrots, mix well.
-Add sesame and Tobiko, mix gently. You shouldn't really need any salt for this because of the crab, but add it now if you feel you need to.
-Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for half hour to one hour before serving. Mix again and serve. You can sprinkle on some scallion or chopped parsley for some extra color.

May 24, 2010

Slow and Easy Wins the Race

Time to dust off your slow cookers and crock pots my friends!

I never grew up with a slow cooker and until Sunday, I had never used one. We received our slow cooker earlier in the week, I can't remember what sparked my desire for one, but out of nowhere, I started researching them like crazy. It's big, I have to mention that. It's heavy, I need to say that too. But by god, all that is worth it when after five and a half hours, a piece of meat that you covered in nothing more than some spices, wine, onions and beef broth is so tender it falls apart by merely touching it.

I am a fan - and now, so it the hubs (who by the way was VERY skeptical of the big, heavy, thing -  he's singing a different tune now). I can't wait to explore and try other things... If anyone has a slow cooker recipe they absolutely love, send it my way please!

I would have included a picture of last night's dinner, but while it tasted amazing, a great picture it did not make. So instead, this is a picture of the cooker I got. It's not the most expensive one out there by far, but from the tons of reviews I read, it was one of the better choices. And from my one turn at using it, it was perfect.

More to come on some slow cooking experiments...

Set 'n Forget 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker

May 17, 2010

Sunday Brunch

I love brunch. Don't most people? This was actually what I made for Mother's Day... and sorry for the delay. I think the wonderful pictures and easy yummy recipes should make up for it though right?

Simply Sweet Sandwiches

The surprise of the sweet fig jam is what makes these so irresistible. If you can't find fig jam or don't like it, you can use honey instead. Also, any kind of sweet chutney, apple or mango for example, would be fabulous as well.

1 Whole wheat baguette sliced down the center then cut in 3-4" pieces
1/2 lb Black forest ham (not too thin)
2+ cups of good cheddar (this was a wonderful English Farmhouse), either grated or sliced thin
Fig Jam

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees
-Spread 1 tbs of jam on each piece of bread
-Layer on the ham, then cheese (either shredded or sliced)
-Bake until the cheese is melty, about 8 minutes
-Serve immediately

Spring Salad

This salad was a hit. The mushrooms come out just perfectly cooked this way and the additions of the nuts give a satisfying little crunch to the whole thing. The combination of Arugula and Watercress is both slightly peppery and refreshing.

1 box/bag Arugula
1 bunch Watercress, roughly chopped or ripped
1 pint crimini/baby bella mushrooms (you can use any mushroom you like!), sliced
1 tray portobello mushrooms (again, use any mushroom you like), sliced
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
3/4 cup white wine
2 tbs butter (or butter substitute like Smart Balance)
1 bunch Parsley, chopped roughly
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup tarragon vinegar
1 cup olive oil
Salt & pepper

-Start sauteing the mushrooms in a large pan with the butter
-Once all the mushrooms are coated, add the wine, let it all boil
-Lower the heat to a simmer and let it all cook away
-When the liquid has almost all been absorbed, add the parsley
-Add salt and pepper and let the mushrooms cook until the edges get brown and a little crispy
-Let sit in pan while you combine the lemon, vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl, whisk
-Slowly add the oil while whisking to create the vinaigrette. Adjust to your liking. You might want more oil, more acid or more seasoning at this point
-Put the arugula and watercress in the salad bowl and drizzle on some of the dressing, mix the greens
-Add the mushroom mixture on top, sprinkle on the toasted nuts, and drizzle on some more dressing
-Serve unmixed (its so nice looking that way). If there is extra dressing, put it on the table


I love Pavlovas. These may have been the last I'll make until Fall, too. Pavlovas do NOT like heat and humidity is the death knoll for these fluffy concoctions. In fact, I would say if its more than just slightly humid, don't even bother, the egg whites won't whip up enough to make a good meringue. If it's hot, but not humid, you can give it a go, but heat makes these delicate treats sticky and eventually sink into themselves. All that being said, if your in a well air conditioned space, they should work out just fine.

3 large egg whites
1.5 cups white sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
Zest of 1 large orange (optional)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tbs good quality vanilla extract
Berries of your choosing

-Preheat oven to 230 degrees (225 is fine too, but don't go higher or lower than that)
-Cover 2 baking sheets with parchment, set aside
-In a metal bowl (or stand mixer) add egg whites and whisk with electric beaters until just frothy
-Add cream of tartar and mix well
-Very very slowly, painfully slowly in fact, start adding the sugar - little bit at a time otherwise you deflate the egg whites
-Keep mixing until all the sugar has been added. Every once in a while, scrape down the sides gingerly with a rubber spatula
-Add 1 tbs of vanilla and keep mixing the whites until they form stiff peaks. Don't over mix though or you'll dry out the whites
-If using the zest, slowly and carefully mix it in with the spatula
-Place a nice dollop of whites on the baking sheet. They will expand slightly, so don't overcrowd
-Bake in the oven for exactly 1 hour. They should be all completely white still, make a hollow noise when you tap them, and still slightly gooey inside. If because of your altitude or the weather they are still too gooey and don't make that hollow noise, bake for another 20 minutes
-While baking, whip the cream with the remaining two tbs of vanilla to your desired texture
-Place meringues on a serving platter and put a dollop of whipped cream on each, followed by a berry or two
-Serve. This will make anywhere between 18-30 depending on size

May 7, 2010

The 100

Very Good Taste, a British blogger, created "The Omnivore's 100." It's a fun idea. One hundred items that VGT feels every Omnivore, worth their salt, should try once. I think it's a cool check list, but I also think since it's not all meats, poultry, or fish items, it should be re-named, but that's neither her nor there. Personally, I've had all but nine items on the list: Lobster Thermidor, horse, tasting menu at a three-Micheline-star restaurant, baijiu, roadkill, Louche absinthe, Fugu, Brunost, and whole insects - but I'll get to them (well, maybe all except roadkill?)

In honor of the clever idea, I've made my own list. It's filled with things that everyone should allow themselves  the pleasure of eating. Not all of them are odd, or rare, and I won't be grading you on this, kiddies. Instead, do yourself a favor one day and try something on the list you've never had. There's nothing odd for odd's sake and no status items here (except maybe caviar). These are just things I love that might not be an everyday item... things that ultimately make me a happy foodie.

What I'd love is your additions. What food makes you smile? What's something that everyone should have the pleasure of tasting, even just once? Let me know.

In no particular order:

The Duchess 100

4. Fiddlehead Ferns (above)
6. Fresh Mozzarella, still warm, from its water bath
7. Sunset Ale (from Key West, Florida)
8. Russian/Iranian Caviar
9. Soft Shell Crabs
10. Pastrami Sandwich from Katz's Deli
11. Fresh corn, picked, boiled, and eaten within 10 minutes
12. Squash Blossoms (pic below)
13. Shad Roe
 14. Smoked mackerel
15. Cold Noodles with Sesame Sauce
16. Avocado's with white onions, lemon, and salt
17. Salt & Pepper Squid (classic Chinese dish)
18. Fresh shrimp, pulled from water, then boiled
19. An original Nathan's hot dog from the original Nathan's on Coney Island
20. Heirloom tomatoes
21. Philly Cheese-steak in Philly
22. BBQ Baby Back ribs
23. A crisp apple, in October, with sharp cheddar cheese
24. Guava paste with cream cheese
25. Raspberries and blackberries off the bush
26. Peking Duck
27. Warm chocolate chip cookie
28. Ricotta cheesecake (aka Italian cheesecake)
29. Bloody Mary
30. Fish & chips in newspaper
31. Hummus with warm pita
32. Root beer float
33. 70% dark chocolate
34. Watermelon sprinkled with salt
35. Pesto
36. Mint Lemonade
37. Coconut rice
38. Brown sugar-baked bacon
39. Chinese broccoli in oyster sauce
40. Fresh pasta
41. Excellent French butter
42. Crusty fresh baguette (especially with said butter)
43. Melt-in-your-mouth Toro (tuna) sushi
44. Cous Cous
45. Pine nuts
46. Fresh Lychee nuts (at bottom)
47. Flan
48. Nocciola (hazelnut) gelato
49. Lobster roll
50. Snow cone / shaved ice with syrup
51. Roasted chestnuts

52. Candied flower petals
53. Turkish/Greek/Cuban Coffee
54. Korean BBQ
55. Excellent Greek Olive Oil
57. Fresh whipped cream
58. Spit roasted pig
59. Skate with capers and brown butter
60. Dim Sum
61. Tart Tatin with creme friache
62. Mussels Mariniere
64. Persimmons
65. Cadbury Cream Egg
66. Sausages from around the world (Chorizo, Meguez, Chinese dry, etc)
67. Homemade fresh cheese
68. Terry's Chocolate Orange
71. Baci Chocolate
73. Grilled bread
75. Gravlax
77. Kirby cucumber
78. White hot chocolate
80. Crepe with Nutella
81. Coconut water
82. Warm buttered egg noodles
83. Fresh peas
84. Baked brie
85. Jasmine rice
86. A real Cherry Coke made with syrup
88. Warm maple syrup
89. Myer lemon
90. Cipollini onion
91. Salt water taffy
92. Tarragon vinegar
93. Country style pate with cornichon
94. Malbec
95. Grilled blood sausage
97. Pan seared foie gras
98. Kettle corn
100. Citrus curds

May 5, 2010

It's so Pretty!

I was speaking to a foodie friend yesterday and somehow fish came up. The details aren't all that important, what is important, is last night's dinner. She told me about the incredibly simple way she makes fresh fish and all I could focus on for the rest of the day was going to Chinatown, getting a fresh fish, and cooking it ASAP! There's nothing radical about the recipe or cooking method, it's a very classic Chinese preparation, but that doesn't make it any less delicious.

The results are so damn pretty! Okay, okay, so my idea of pretty and yours may differ, but you can't deny how yummy this looks. I bought a 1 1/2 pound fish that should have satisfied the hubs and I... I'll let you know that poor fishy was devoured in a manner of minutes. We could have easily eaten four each it was so good. You have been warned!

Steamed Fish a la Wendy
1 - 1 1/2 lb white fish. Make sure it was swimming and alive for the best results. Have them cut the fins, scale it, and gut it for you. I had them keep the tail and head on because it looks wonderful that way, but you can have them cut those off, too. (This happens to be a Tilapia, but I was told that Bass makes for some truly fine eats)
8-10 thick slices of fresh ginger
1 1/2 - 2 cups of fresh cilantro, stems removed (don't drive yourself nuts here if there are still some stems)
1 1/2 - 2 cups of fresh scallion, sliced into thin matchsticks
1/3 cup seasoned soy sauce for seafood (I was told to get Lee Kum Kee brand. This stuff is so amazing tasting, you're going to want to douse everything in it!)
1/8 cup sesame oil
1/8 cup vegetable oil

-Although it was probably washed at the Fish Monger, wash the outside and cavity again with water.
-Set your wok with 2 cups of water on the stove top and place a steaming plate in it (mine is bamboo. That doesn't matter as long as the plate can be raised by feet for steaming).
-Place fish on serving platter and distribute half of the sliced ginger in the cavity, the other half on top. Cover the wok (I used tin foil - don't have a wok cover), and let steam away for about 20 minutes or so. It's perfectly cooked when a chopstick can be inserted and pulled out with no resistance. If you don't have a wok, you can do this in the oven by filling a large, deep roasting pan, 1/4 full with water. Place the steaming plate in the center and place your dish on top. Cover the entire thing with foil.
-When fish is cooked, remove plate from wok and discard the ginger (if you're a real ginger fan, you can slice up the ginger and re-use it along with the other greens). Pour the soy sauce over fish and greens.
-Heat up the oils in a pot. Meanwhile, place the sliced scallion and cilantro on top of the fish, letting the head and tail peek out. Once the oil is boiling hot, carefully pour over the fish and greens - you should hear a very satisfying little crackling noise.
-Serve immediately.

May 4, 2010

The Birthday Boy

My husband turns thirty next week.

In the grand scheme of birthday's, its a biggie, a milestone. For some our age, turning thirty is a terrifying prospect. Its time to buckle down, become a homeowner, a parent, a useful member of society... I feel that pressure too, but somehow, it's not driving me nuts. My husband and I have talked about this quit a bit actually. Somehow, by having each other, thirty doesn't feel like some major event. Instead, it simply feels like another year together - another birthday we get to share.

Without him I know I'd be stressed - I'd be a bundle of nerves.

"What am I doing with my life?"
"Will I ever find someone to love me?"
"I'm not getting any younger!"

I did find someone to love me, thank you, Honey.

Of course I'm still not sure what I'm doing with life yet, and no, I'm not getting any younger, but I have someone with me now to help figure it all out and someone to age with. Some might laugh at me thinking of aging at the tender age of thirty, but I can't help it. My parents have been married for over thirty years, my husband's parents even longer. I've seen them age and change and fight and laugh together for twenty-nine of those years, and through it all, the very fact that they have each other has, I think, made things less scary and more possible. Although we haven't been married long, that's how I feel too. I feel the possibilities. Together we can figure "it" out, and we'll do it bravely.

I like to think about how much we've already grown as a couple. I know for a fact that I've calmed down. Not that I was a jittery mess before, but certainly it was harder to let things go. I would let things fester inside - not unlike cucumbers slowly pickling in jar. I don't let that happen anymore. As for him, I'd like to think that besides introducing him to a world of food he was unaware before, I've made him a happier soul. There's a lightness about him now that wasn't there when we met. He laughs more.

You're probably wondering what meal I have planned for his big 3-0. What manner of beast I'll be roasting, what kind of chocolate I'll be melting... I could tell you, but then the surprise would be ruined. Instead I'll promise you that our tummies and hearts will be full. We'll laugh and kiss and eat something yummy. As the night winds down, we'll talk about my coming thirtieth in July and once again reiterate together that thirty is in fact, just another number.

*We found this print of the couple under the Brooklyn Bridge on We loved it so much we had it framed.
It hangs in our hallway, right by the door. We see it every time we leave or enter the apartment.
The artist/store Art Shark Designs, has the red umbrella couple around the world and country. 
They're all beautifully done and make wonderful gifts.