Archive | October, 2009

The Mystery Fruit

20 Oct

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“Try these and guess what they are,” my co-worker said.

I chewed on one of the tiny, olive-shaped fruits and was pleasantly surprised by a sweet and familiar taste. Before I could respond with an answer, my co-worker exclaimed, “They’re kiwis!”

Instantly, it all made sense; yes, that was the exact flavor I was tasting. Kiwis! But they didn’t look anything like kiwis – where was the fuzzy, brown skin? And why were they so tiny? My co-worker went on to explain that these were another smaller kiwi variety, called Hardy kiwis. She had found them at her local farmer’s market and had a similar reaction when she discovered them.

To my delight, when I went to a nearby farmer’s market last week, I happened upon a fruit stand selling Hardy kiwis. Instantly I recognized them and eagerly exclaimed to the seller that I knew what they were and had just tried them for the first time a couple days before. I bought a container of the yummy fruits and nearly ate half within the first day : P I love the fact that there is no peeling involved; simply pop the baby kiwis into your mouth as if snacking on grapes – convenient and delicious!

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Roasted Tomato Soup

16 Oct

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A visit to a local farmer’s market today inspired me to make a homemade tomato soup. Originally hoping to find chanterelles or porcini mushrooms (sadly there were none to be found), I instead walked away with a handful of ripe grape tomatoes, which I proceeded to roast for added depth of flavor.

I don’t really follow recipes unless I’m baking, so for this dish I improvised. I chopped the tomatoes in half, lengthwise, tossed them in a bowl of sliced onions and garlic, then seasoned with olive oil, freshly cracked pepper, salt, and basil. At the last minute I threw in some sliced carrots, then laid everything out on a baking sheet and roasted at 400 degrees for about half an hour. Delicious smells ensued.

Melting some butter in a pot, I threw in chopped garlic, then added the roasted tomato mixture, chicken broth, basil, tomato paste, and a dash of sugar. After simmering for a bit, I poured everything into a blender and pureed the soup until it was just the right texture – not too smooth and not too chunky, but somewhere in between.

The final result was quite flavorful, and I accompanied the soup with one of its pals, the good ‘ole grilled cheese sandwich…nom nom nom indeed. I think next time I want to try adding some red bell pepper for another dimension of flavor, but for now I’m in tomato soup bliss : )

Thumbprint Minis

13 Oct

Mmm, peanut butter and chocolate…

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Bored and on bedrest this past weekend, I was inspired to bake after reading through some food blogs to help pass the time. I came across this recipe (from Elissa of 17andbaking.com), which I’d like to re-title “PB+Chocolate Thumbprint Minis” if I may (they sound cuter that way, and they reminded me of the thumbprint cookies my roomie made during Christmas). I know that some people might be turned off by the labor-intensity of the recipe, as the cookies are so tiny that many batches (we’re talking roughly 15-DOZEN) are required. But if you know me, I am a patient baker, and will willingly spend hours frosting cupcakes or making sure all the cookies are round – you can call it perfectionism, but I’ll just say it’s giving attention to detail ; ) Anyways, feeling well-rested, much-recuperated, and up for a challenge, I went ahead and baked these cookies this afternoon (I do admit though, that as much as I am patient, I had to stop a little after midway through and freeze the remaining dough for another day, as there was so much dough!).

Ingredients:

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup shortening
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
3 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Granulated sugar for rolling
Chocolate chips (I used semisweet and white)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat peanut butter and shortening until well mixed, then beat in the two sugars until light. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together, then add in 3 batches to the peanut butter mixture, beating well between additions.

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Using a 1/4 tsp, roll dough into 1/2 inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar and place on ungreased baking sheets. [I used parchment paper]

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Bake 5-6 minutes and remove from oven. Immediately press a chocolate chip into the center of each cookie. Let cookies cool a minute, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Here’s another shot of the finished cookies; such a cute little family : ) And btw, these tasted great! They are also hard to stop eating…

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Lastly, here’s a picture of my friend, Domo, eyeing the fresh batch…

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Simple Soup for the Seoul

9 Oct

As the temperatures dip and the leaves turn shades of deep red, orange, and yellow, I’m pulled (against my will) into the crisp, fall season (soon-to-be winter, its chilly cousin). Gone is the warmth and sunshine of summer, now replaced with a cool new air (or should I say ‘heir? : P). Autumn is queen, and though I can’t contest the changes of Mother Nature, I can adapt as I’ve done year after year. So where’s the best place to start? While I do enjoy the opportunity to snuggle up under a warm blanket or to crank up the heat in my apartment, my stomach begs to differ, and I feel best warmed by a nice hot meal…My dish of choice in times like these? Hot pot.

Last year, I flew down to LA to visit the bro for Thanksgiving. He introduced me to a Korean restaurant called Seoul Garden, which specializes in a dish called “Jing-Gee Skhan.” Seeing the pictures on the wall, I was reminded of Japanese shabu shabu, one of my favorites. Of course we had to get it.

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Essentially a hot pot of sorts, the “Jing-Gee Skan” starts off in a pot of boiling water, into which goes an assortment of thinly sliced beef, tofu, enoki mushrooms, kamaboko (fish cake), and mixed greens (I wasn’t sure exactly what this was comprised of, but something along the lines of napa cabbage and green onions). The contents are quickly cooked by the scalding water and ready to eat in just a matter of seconds – this is the beauty of hot pot; that everything is ready in a flash, and there isn’t much prep work to be done beforehand. I proceeded to scoop out a big serving of the beef+veggie combination, then dipped everything in the tangy ponzu-like sauce that came with the meal…delish! The flavors melded in my mouth so nicely, and I voraciously chowed down.

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After finishing off the vegetables and meat, my tummy was quite content…yet there was more. The waitress proceeded to place a batch of udon noodles into the pot, which (surprisingly) we were able to eat all of. I thought for sure this was the last. Yet to my surprise, a final round of rice, egg, and nori (seaweed) strips went into thet pot, forming a gruel or porridge. This was an ingenious end to a meal, and perhaps my favorite part. What’s brilliant is that nothing went to waste.

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I left the restaurant feeling warm and content to the soul.

And now as I embrace a new season of fall, I am reminded that with the change in temperature comes a return to hot meals, and I am excited. Though I can’t recreate the “Jing-Gee Skhan” exactly as I had it in LA, I can make something equally as filling and warm on my stove at home with just a few veggies and some meat. Mmm, bring it on, Mother Nature!

Escoffier

8 Oct

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