Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snow, family, and noms.

Whassup, hooligans?
Long time no blog! My sincerest apologies to the very small number of people who actually read this sad excuse for a site (SARA I KNOW YOU CREEPIN. COMMENT HAEJWO)... For the past few weeks, finals have rocked my world (in a bad way). 5 tests and 3 papers later, I am done for the semester, yezzirrrr. Thank God for pulling me through and always blessing me with so much more than I deserve. I got back to Richmond a few days ago and not a moment sooner because as of last evening it has been snowing nonstop.

I bought a lb of yeast from king arthur flour, which is a GREAT site. For $12 ($5.95 for the yeast itself), you bet I'm saving a lot by not having to buy those tiny packets at the grocery store. I strongly encourage purchasing SAF Red Instant Yeast if you bake a lot of yeast goods, and even if you don't; this stuff keeps in the fridge/freezer for years. Wowwww, tangent!

Sorry. I used some of that yeast to make an adjusted version of these cinnamon rolls for the family, and it couldn't have been easier. Even though I'm not much of a sweets person, these really hit the spot and weren't cloyingly sweet. Well, that's because I cut down on the filling's sugar by half, and it still tasted great. I also decreased the butter. Aaannnd instead of 12 rolls, I rolled them thin enough to make 18 servings so you don't feel as guilty eating one. Instead of cream cheese icing, I just combined a little confectioner's sugar and milk. The recipe calls for a bread machine, but I just did everything by hand. You can do it too!

This one was a little wonky but still DUHLICIOUS!

Cinnamony, soft, chewy, slightly gooey and iced, and unravel-able as any good cinnamon roll should be. Look at these photos and tell me you ain't want some too?

Before I finish, let's play catch up for a second.

Just because I don't blog frequently doesn't mean I don't make food during that time... A lot of the time I'm too hungry or too lazy to whip out my crap point and shoot. I always have my cell phone around, however, and sometimes I snap a pic if I remember. Here are a couple things that have been tickling my fancy:

Baked kale chips. Try it! Super crispy, light, and healthy. Has a nori flavored end-note
Sauteed kale (I was on quite a kale kick) with garlic! Ate it for dinner with ham and egg on baguette.
Cinnamon caramel popcorn
Salted caramel sauce (this was way after and unrelated to the popcorn :| )

I also made some rose-shaped dinner rolls for Thanksgiving..

And my new ink...
Ever since my last entry, I'd been working on this huge description of my tattoos. What memories they stand for, the contemplation surrounding them, why I got them where I did, etc. Then I realized I had written over 3 pages single-spaced, and decided you don't need to know AWL dat. I got a knife and fork on my left and right upper inner arms, respectively. They were done by Mike at Salvation Tattoo here in Richmond, and he is an amazing artist. They don't mean I regard myself as a great cook, because I don't. It's nothing of the "I earned this tattoo" variety. The tattoos remind me of my memories from childhood to recent days, mainly having to do with the food/cooking of my family (this is the part that made my initial draft a NOVELLL). It's more than food. It's about fellowship and thankfulness, love and emotion. Corny sounding, but true to me. My fork's on my right and my knife's on my left (opposite of how most of us would hold them when using both) for specific reasons that take too long to explain.. And for those of you who don't care for tattoos, that's cool too, but expressing that strong dislike to me won't benefit anyone, so spew that somewhere else yo

Random food fact: A standard cinnamon roll from Cinnabon has over 700 calories. The recipe I used had a lot less (so try it).


P.S. I'm in the process of switching over to Wordpress, so hold on to your hats.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Tastes of fall

Oh, hey there, baby. I'm pumpkin bread. Full of spice and errthin nice.
Moist, a lovely speckled orange shade, and seasonal... Look, even the autumn leaves want in on the action.
This pumpkin bread is simple and best the next day. The recipe I used yields 3 sizable loaves-- I've finished almost half a loaf on my own, one is going in the freezer for later, and the other's going to friends... Celebrate the season yo. Recipe's at the bottom of this post with my adaptations, the main change being a sugar reduction.

Oven steak fries (dried oregano, salt). Photo by Eunice!

Eunice C. and I made chili (and steak fries) last week for the first time. We went purty crazy and put things in such as cocoa powder, beer, turkey bacon, and chipotle in adobo... It was good, though we both agreed that the flavor was a bit too heavy/"rich" and that it was better the next day.. I think after I added more stock, tomato puree and tomato paste it tasted a lot more chili-like.
Photo by Eunice C.
We're gonna take another stab at it soon, so I'll post the improved recipe then. Speaking of stab, I got tattoos of a knife and fork, but more on that in the next entry. Until then, savor the season with all things fall and delicious.

Pumpkin Bread
Adapted from Laurie Bennett's recipe. Adaptations in italics.
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (this may seem like a lot, but it's for 3 large loaves, none of which you'll finish off alone.. right?)
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3 cups white sugar *I reduced to 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
*1 tbsp pumpkin spice instead of all of the below
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour (I didn't flour and it was fine) three 7x3 inch loaf pans (my loaf pans ran a little bigger).
  2. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin spice. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.
  3. Bake for about 50 minutes (mine ran close to about 55-60 minutes) in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Random food fact: I ate a lot of food today and I'm too tired to find real food trivia.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Happy 21st, Eunice and John!

First, let's get some ear candy goin' on.

Honey Bee by Zee Avi (so excited to see her play @ the Tea Bazaar Nov 6! Christy and I are going. Come with.)

Feelin more soul/r&b? Make Me Whole by Amel Larrieux is one of my all-time favorite songs... I think this might be my future wedding song

Happy birthday to two vurrry special 3rd years, Eunice and John! There was a little class potluck to celebrate, and I made my favorite chicken salad. I'm glad to have been an honorary third year tonight :p but I'm pretty sure I was supposed to be the noob server (according to Joe and co.). Sike. Anyway, Eunice and John, I feel blessed to know yall here at the Univ and pray that God watches over both of you on this special day & beyond!

I've been making chicken salad more or less like this for a couple years now, though today was the first time I added pomegranate seeds. I love the sweet, tangy crunch it gives the salad, much more than grapes or craisins (both of which are still delicious in chick salad). I think pomegranate is gonna become an official part of my recipe from now on :) No one has ever disliked this salad, which is super simple and fresh-- a very easy departure from those mushy chicken, relish-laden, bland chicken salads that you see around. I say save the abnormally creamy meat and relish for tuna salad. CHICKEN salad is a whole other creature yo

Photo by the talented Angela W. :) Thanks for letting me borrow!

My favorite chicken salad
I wish I could give you a serving size, but I have no idea. hehe

For chicken:
  • 3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts- butterflied, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • couple cracks of black pepper (I like the black specks.. If you don't, use white pepper)
  • couple pinches of garlic powder- optional
For dressing:
  • quarter of an onion, minced (red is pretty, white/yellow works just as well)
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • juice of half a lime
  • pinch of salt, couple cracks of pepper
  • 2 small stalks scallions, chopped (reserve half of one for garnish)
  • about 2-3 "sections" of a pomegranate (reserve ~1 tbsp for garnish)
  • mayo (as little or as much as you'd like)
For chicken:
Heat a saute pan on medium-high. Sprinkle salt, pepper and garlic powder on butterflied chicken breasts and lightly rub to coat. Pour a tiny bit of oil into pan, swirl around and place chicken in in one layer. Cover loosely with foil to prevent splattering (just in case there's still water on your chicken. Water + oil in a pan = sizzlin pain fo you). Cook for ~3 min each side, or until cooked through. Remove chicken from pan and set aside to rest while you prepare the dressing.

For dressing:
Add all ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly. The amount of mayo is to your preference; I usually add 3-4 heaping spoonfuls at first and gradually add more if needed.

Chop chicken into small pieces and mix into dressing. The salad tastes best when placed in the fridge for at least 30 mins so flavors can meld together, but you can still serve right away :) Garnish with reserved scallions and pomegranate seeds and serve with crackers or bread.

Note: If you don't like raw onion flavor, soak minced onion (minced as tiny as you can so there aren't chunks!) in cold water for a few minutes and drain before adding.

Random food fact: there are about 600 seeds in each pomegranate.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Quick post..

Had free time and decided to do a little late-night baking and deliver to people studying for tests!
I used this recipe, but I made a few changes. Instead of 3 cups AP flour, I mixed 2 cups AP flour and 1 cup bread flour. I only had cinnamon so I upped the amt in place of the other spices... I didn't have cream cheese for the icing (which would've been sinfully delicious), so I mixed a tiny bit of unsalted butter, confectioner's sugar, vanilla extract and warm water together until I got the right consistency. Too bad the pretty icing streaks just melted because I didn't have time to let the rolls cool.
The rolls were said to be really tasty (I was happy when Clarissa said it was better than Cinnabon :D), but I don't think the pumpkin flavor was particularly pronounced. Maybe the other traditional "pumpkin pie" spices would've enhanced that pumpkin taste we all know and love!

Phone pics that I hastily snapped:
Puffed up and ready to go in the oven! They have such a pretty color.

Ready for delivery :)

Definitely try the recipe. It's so nice for autumn!

Random food fact: The word pumpkin originates from the word pepon, which is Greek for “large melon".


Saturday, September 12, 2009

These little piggies went to the market...

Note: Photos are a mix of phone pics and regular digicam pics. Ooops. Thanks to C.C. for some of the market photos as I only had my phone camera!

Waiting for the free trolley to go downtown

This morning, my friend C and I decided to go to the Charlottesville City Market, located in the Historic Downtown Mall. I'd only been there once in April, just as the market opened for the season. Vendors were selling flowers, artwork, jams, cheeses, and specialty meats. When we went today, the market was bursting with all of that PLUS nature's summer bounty! Veggies and fruits overflowed their baskets. Now it was lookin' like a real farmers market, and we were ready to eat and sniff our way through the stands.
We met a retired bio researcher named Curtis who has a beautiful addiction to growing dahlias. He raises 71 different varieties about a mile away from the market. He does weddings if you're interested (434-293-5754).

another vendor's flowers
tomatoes being [french] kissed by the morning sun. bahahaimagine using these beautiful Willy Wonka-esque bell peppers in your next dish

Probably a little before 9am, C and I split a humongous spinach and cheese pastry (the sign said something about Bosnian treats just like your mother made 'em... but uh.. My mother's not Bosnian, so I can't say much about that). The pastry was probably even better fresh out of the oven (fryer?), but it was still flavorful. Buuut I'd pass on it next time for the $5 price tag and lack of means to reheat. You can see a bit of it in the background of the next photo.

A little before 10am, we had tacos al pastor.
For breakfast.
Not breakfast tacos, but tacos for breakfast. Understand? We're hardcore.
Washed the taco down with fresh horchata. Horchata is usually made from soaked and ground up rice (or a different grain, or nuts), sugar and cinnamon. I think I could taste some nutmeg in the one I had. Regardless of what went into the family's brew, I was into it. Creamy, sweet and spicy.

In addition to our "breakfast" and samples of cheddar, berries, etc., I took away some more spoils.. Mahaha

an assortment of tomatoes, parsley, black mission figs
If you've never had figs before, go try some. Are you scarred by dry and crumbly Fig Newtons from days of yore? NEVER FEAR! A fresh fig isn't anything like its Sloth Fratelli counterpart (if you caught the reference, I owe you a marble bag).
My total for the parsley and figs was supposed to be $5.50, but the vendor only charged me $5. He probably didn't want to wait for me to find the change, or he didn't want the possibility of having to give me change. Maybe he charges everyone $5-- but I'm gonna say it's because I look ah-mazingly beautiful early in the morn'. Mhm
Soft, jam-like flesh with crunchy little seeds... Sweeter than honey with a unique earthy flavor.

I cooked lunch for some of my girls today: linguine with chicken and tomato/cream sauce, sprinkled with the parsley and cherry tomatoes I bought this morning. Topped the whole shebang off with freshly grated Romano cheese and called it a meal. For dessert we had concord grapes from a VA vineyard and the black mission (best variety ever) figs, without any adornments. I was kinda surprised to hear that none of the 5 girls had ever tried a fig. The most common reaction after tasting was that they were "unique" and "tastier than they appear." Maybe the typical, boldly flavored fruits we've grown to love have turned us off of these yummy gems, but I call for a revival amongst the young'ns! HUZZAHHH! *pumps fist*


Random food fact (via Wikipedia): Figs are one of the highest plant sources of calcium and fiber. According to USDA data for the Mission variety, dried figs are richest in fiber, copper, manganese, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and vitamin K, relative to human needs.


Friday, September 11, 2009


There are few things more gratifying than making dough with your own two hands, feeling it, nurturing it, molding it.. then watching it become something magical, something that has brought hearts together throughout the ages and the world.

Making bread is such an intimate experience (no dirty thoughts yo). It is also a tasty one. Tonight, more specifically from 11pm-2:30am, I finally got around to using my forgotten stash of yeast. It went into some beautifully chewy, dense yet airy challah. Challah, more or less pronounced hal-lah (but start the first syllable like you're about to hock a tiny loogie), is a braided egg bread eaten on the Sabbath and other Jewish holidays.

All I gotta say is, HOLLA IF YOU LOVE CHALLAH!
I made a 3-strand braided loaf, a 6-strand braided loaf, and a couple knots. Some of the challot got brushed with garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, thyme, black pepper and salt. Some got brushed with brown sugar and cinnamon.
The big kahuna (6-strand) was left unadultered. I kind of messed up the braiding, but as long as it tastes good..
"It looks like a dinosaur's tail!" -j. ku
I really didn't take my time with the photos, considering I was way too hungry to care and so were my apt mates :)

the savory challah speckled with black pepper, thyme, garlic powder, etc.Recipe here (make sure to use the appended version at bottom). Now back to studying..

Random food fact (via Wikipedia): On Rosh Hashana, the "Jewish New Year," challah may be rolled into a circular shape, symbolizing the cycle of the year.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Crème de la crème

A few weeks ago, my dad gave me this pocket torch just in case. I wasn't planning on soldering anytime soon, so I used it for something even better...

Photos taken with my phone again. Sorry!
Crème brûlée. The cream of the crop when it comes to custard-based desserts, IMHO.
With the tap of a spoon, the caramelized top shatters like glass and gives way to the cold, creamy custard hiding underneath...

It's like the scene in Little Women when that annoying girl falls into the frozen lake as the ice cracks beneath her skates... Yep, it's EXACTLY like that-- except this is more soul-satisfying, and no one gets hurt.

..And there's no lake or ice, or... Ok, that was a horrible metaphor.

This dessert is stick-to-your-ribs phenomenal, and couldn't be any simpler. The version below doesn't even require you to whisk the custard on the stove. To top things off (literally), you get to play with fire-- and only good things can come out of that. Add some fresh strawberries or any other fruit on top, and you have a lovely foil to the rich custard.

Crème brûlée
Technique based on Debbie Puente's Elegantly Easy Creme Brulee
Makes approx. 4 servings

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or seeds of 1/2 vanilla pod
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • hot water (for water bath)
  • 4 ramekins, custard cups, or disposable aluminum muffin tins (can be cut to separate cups)
  • extra sugar for caramelizing tops
  • blowtorch (the fancy cooking kind, or a regular one from the hardware store)
Preheat the oven to 300F. In a bowl, whisk egg yolks and the 4 tbsp of sugar until mixture is pale yellow. Whisk in cream. Strain/skim to get rid of bubbles and pour into ramekins. Place a paper towel inside of an oven-safe pan and place ramekins on top of paper towel. Move pan to oven rack and pour hot water into pan until halfway up ramekins. Bake for 40 minutes or until custard sets on the outside and slightly jiggles in center. Cool to room temp and chill in fridge for at least 2 hours.

Prior to serving, pour sugar on top of custard and shake to coat. Pour out excess and torch tops until bubbly and caramelized. Let cool so sugar can harden.

Random food fact: The Catalan version of crème brûlée is called crema catalana, and it is typically flavored with orange/lemon zest and cinnamon.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Grozen Frapes

Apologies for the lack of updates. I'm back at school, I'm living in a new apt, and I'm too lazy to find my charger for the camera. Oops! Consequently, this is a half-arsed entry and photos were taken with my phone. On to the grapes. I got graaaapes (if you know where that's from, you are a certified hyphy head in my book.. llllawl!).

If you've never had frozen grapes before, you HAVE NOT LIVED!!!

Okay, maybe you have lived sans frozen grapes-- but you will live with new gusto if you try em.*

When frozen completely, grapes don't take on the solid quality of ice. Instead of being brittle and completely rock-solid, the flesh becomes hard but creamy like a firm sorbet or popsicle.

Simply rinse and dry some grape bunches, place in a ziplock bag or tupperware, and stick them in the freezer. Red/dark grapes work best, and make sure they're awesomely sweet. And there you go: an instant, healthy snack or dessert. Frozen grapes are all the rage at snazzy luxury resorts and such... If they're good enough for that crowd, they're good enough for us simple folk ;)

A glimpse of what's to come...

What could that be for? You're probably guessing correctly... but for now, I gotta do some reading!

Random food fact: botanically, grapes are true berries.


* not guaranteed, but VERY LIKELY, HOMES!

Friday, July 31, 2009

A family favorite & a family visit.

If you're Korean, you know what these delicious frozen things are. Melona (메로나) bars are creamy, honeydew-flavored popsicles by Binggrae (also maker of BBBig red bean popsicles, banana milk, and more). Ever since I was little, these were a summer treat in the household. Grandma would buy a whole box of them when we went to the korean grocery store, and she'd open one and give it to me for the ride home. I can't describe the creamsicle except that it tastes like the real deal melon, with a hint of cream or milk. Not too sweet, full of fruit.


The consistency is really firm at first, but once it melts, the flavor is more pronounced and the creamsicle is like sherbet on a stick. I don't even knowwwwww it's just crazy delicious!

Today I was exploring our freezers, and found a gallon-size bag of cubed honeydew. I guess my mom spotted an overripe melon in the house many moons ago, cut it up and froze it. I remember my dad made an awesome honeydew smoothie two or three weeks ago (he is the smoothie master of the house-- makes one every few days without fail), so I guess this is where the melon came from. When I tasted his smoothie, I remember exclaiming that it tasted just like our favorite melon popsicle! It was even thick like a slightly melty Melona. Yumyum.
I also found some organic coconut milk frozen in an ice tray (had leftovers from pina coladas I made a while back), which I accused my mother of throwing away when I didn't see the milk in the fridge last night. Oops. Of course when I found the fruit and coconut milk, I blended up some smoothies-- er, I guess "milkshakes" would be more PC.
I threw some melon, coconut milk cubes, and mint (I had just pruned my mint plant) into the blender and enjoyed a cooling summer drink with a nostalgic touch. Gotta say, though, I like it without the mint! The flavors work (e.g. melon balls w/ mint), but I prefer the classic "Melona" flavor. The coconut milk was a nice background note, as it wasn't too strong and still let the melon flavor stand out.
"Melona" Milkshake/Smoothie
Makes ~4 cups
  • 2 cups ripe honeydew, cubed and frozen
  • 5-6 cubes of coconut or regular milk, frozen in ice cube tray
  • Some milk on standby
Throw honeydew and milk cubes into blender. Slowly pulse to get things going, adding some milk (coconut or regular; I used regular) when the blender doesn't... blend. Blend til smooth and thick like a milkshake. Taste and add a TINY bit of sugar if your melon isn't ripe enough. Serve with a spoon or stirring stick just in case.

Visiting Cousin J in Cape Canaveral, FL

My sister J and I spent a week down in Florida to visit our cousin J and her bf. Needless to say, we gorged ourselves on seafood, home cooked meals and local favorites. It was a week of gluttony. Sadly, these two photos were the only ones of food. Actually, they were practically the only photos I took while there... I didn't want to risk getting sand or water in my camera.

We hit up a place called Sandbar Sports Grill in Cocoa Beach, just a short stroll from the beach. I feel like every beach has their own "Sandbar" kinda place-- an open-ended joint, with fans whirring and AC almost non-existent. Lots of locals and tourists alike, sun-kissed (or sun-smothered) and enjoying a cold brewski and food in the outdoor seating provided.Sandbar is known for its fish tacos, which you can order grilled, baja or blackened. Blackened is by far the most seasoned. I enjoyed my tacos, though nothing screamed "BEST TACOS IN THE WORLD" to me, but who cares when you're in a wonderful place like that? It was good food, I was hungry before and full afterwards, and the fish was fresh. The seasoning/sauce is what really made the tacos: spicy, slightly creamy, and just enough salt. The sides weren't bad either. A small pet peeve of mine is being served lemon or lime slices that are hard to squeeze, such as the above.

Sandbar Sports Grill
4301 Ocean Beach Blvd
Cocoa Beach, FL 32931
(321) 799-2577
Random food fact (via the maker's site): Melona was launched in 1991, and sold 280 million bars in 1994.