Wednesday, March 14, 2012

[almost] wordless wednesday

asian chicken noodle soup

ryan gosling cake (vanilla poundcake, strawberries, fresh whipped cream) for steph's bday. photo by hong
photo by steph
sara's 순두부 찌개 aka soondubu jjigae (spicy tofu soup)
sara's 안동찜닭 aka Andong jjimdak (steamed/braised chicken in soy sauce, with glass noodles)
oreos, strawberries, whipped cream icebox cake
oolong tea
japanese-style mapo tofu


Saturday, December 24, 2011

holy grails

in the makeup world (and to a lesser extent in the food community), holy grail, or HG for short, is an item deemed one's absolute favorite. the item is something one swears by, the perfect find typically after much searching (thanks, urbandictionary, for helping me word my thoughts).
i've finally found an amaaaazing cookie base recipe that i am proud to declare my holy grail. so, what's a perfect cookie to me?

crispy golden edges surrounding a soft, chewy center. buttery, vanilla-y, just enough salt to bring out the flavors. if the cookie is studded with treats, they're perfectly nestled and dispersed in a way that ensures a good piece in each nibble. the cookie isn't airy or cakey. it is neither domed nor thin like a crisp.
within the last week and a half, i've made the recipe (cut in half for smaller batches) 3 times for fam and friends. the first batch had M&Ms, the second chocolate chips, and tonight i made it with the remnants of a hershey's halloween bag that was languishing in the corner of my parents' library room. what resulted was nothing short of a sweet symphony. smooth peanut butter, gooey caramel, crispy rice, and wafers all covered in chocolate accented the sweet and salty cookie base in a way that would've made beethoven proud. er, if he'd been a baker. crappy chocolate CAN be made delicious!
definitely check the recipe out and start experimenting.

in the savory arena, i continue my quest for my HG of chilis. i've been tweaking my chili "recipe" (i say that in quotes because i physically measure absolutely nothing) for quite some time, so i have a lot of chili-related thoughts.

my idea of a great "everyday" chili involves chili pepper (duh), ground meat, beans, tomato, onions, garlic and occasionally corn. if you have a problem with that, i actually don't care. many people are engaged in an ongoing chili debate across the country. some people think it's blasphemous to put beans in chili. i think it's delicious. some people prefer chunks of meat, but when it comes to fixing a simple meal, i'm lazy and cheap (i'd love to try this recipe, though). others think too much tomato ruins chili, but i think "too much" differs from person to person. all regional variations of chili have a place in the world and in my kitchen. however, one thing i will never compromise on is the consistency of a good chili. i don't want rare sightings of meat and whatever else swimming for their survival in a pool of murky water. i want all ingredients suspended in a gravy- or stew-like base. to this end, i like to mash a portion of the beans into a paste and mix into the pot as a natural thickener. i can proudly say that i thought to do that on my own, but i quickly realized that many others do the same. anyway, try it. i'll get back to yall on my recipe when it is HG-worthy.

onto more interesting things. check out this gem of laughability, from
Picture 1
wa... wait... $12.50 for 10 PIECES? WTF? friends, i will take on the laborious task of calculating the ridiculousness of your potential mistake: 12.50/10= $1.25 for each srsly pampered pig in a designer label blanket. and they're only available at gourmet stores and some supermarkets. get real! everyone knows pigs in a blanket are the quintessential trashy but delicious finger food. if you're in a hurry but still have time to go out, buy and bake the site's recommended brand, you have time to buy and bake a dang can of pillsbury crescent rolls (or puff pastry, if you HAVE to be fancy) and pack of mini hot dogs. you will also save a buttload of cash.

check out this one:
Picture 2
if you buy a jar of fungus and oil that looks like those jars of preserved animals you get at tourist traps along the boardwalk, and for 30 bucks at that, you should shuffle to a corner of your swanky party and weep in shame and regret.

i don't have a problem with williams-sonoma so much as i have a problem with the person who will actually buy that jar of mushrooms when in a pinch for a party spread. enter my holy grail of marinated mushroom recipes, found here by blogger "one perfect bite." her recipe is pretty quick (note: you don't have to chill for hours, especially if you slice the mushrooms up like i do), includes more seasonings (you can use whatever's on hand. i leave out coriander) and costs a lot less than's recommendation. you control everything by making your own marinated mushrooms, most importantly sodium and oil content. i often increase the amount of oil because the marinade is delicious when sopped up by a crusty hunk of bread.

your homemade marinated mushrooms will also look a lot tastier (seriously, the store version looks just like that shark jar. don't kid yourself). the cherry on top is that you, too, can "hand-pack" your marinated mushrooms into a pretty jar and call it gourmet.

or not.

to end this drawn-out entry, i will share 3 sketches from the tumblr of America's Test Kitchen, one of the very few tumblrs i can bring myself to check out. i hate tumblr. these HG-worthy tips actually relate to what i talked about today: cookies, mushrooms and party tips. i didn't even plan it! this might actually be my HG of blog entries, because nothing ever works out as perfectly as that did.
keep cookies soft by placing a piece of bread in the container/bag.

submerge & rehydrate dried mushrooms (or whatever else) in a french press as long as the press doesn't absorb odors.

not enough space in the cooler or fridge for the party drinks? keep extras in your washer with some ice.