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Friday, December 23, 2011

My Flow

Well, 2011 has taken me by storm. I spent most of my food blogging time on Facebook, which was part experiment/part necessity. Either way, I've gleaned what I needed and will be back in action on here in 2012.

As far as cooking goes, 2011 was a string of happy meals. I challenged myself with new ingredients, new techniques and new equipment. I took the time to read about historical developments of various ingredients (use, growth, etc.) and techniques (sauce making, etc.). I tried to cook something amazing at least 2 times a week, and pretty much didn't cook the same thing twice all year.

I'm finishing the year with a bang. I cooked our annual cousin holiday dinner with a Chinese-Korean Fusion. Ten adults this year and no leftovers, which was nice. My friend helped prep and drink wine all day, including a 1996 Rosemount Shiraz - surprisingly solid.

The pork belly buns and the Kimchi Stew seemed to be the highlights, but Japanese mushroom dumplings, Kalbi, Tilapia steamed in parchment with ginger, lemongrass, and sake, and a citrus-cured Scallop on pickled cucumbers with minced red chili, and the arugula-pea tendril salad with Thai basil dressing were also hits.

So, to the one, two, or however many people who read this blog: Merry Christmas! I'll see you in 2012.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Recipe Software - MacGourmet Deluxe

It's intuitive, easy to use, and otherwise a great solution for maintaining recipes. But here's the problem, it takes time. Like anything else, you need to type. You need to organize photos, you need to organize your thoughts. Do I recommend it? Absolutely. MacGourmet Deluxe is awesome.

Here's a screenshot of my start page. As you can see, I've only added a few recipes, but it's nice having so much information in a single screen.

And another screenshot once you click on a recipe. It comes up with all the information about your dish. A couple of strange things - my image is sideways. I don't see a fix for that in the program itself, so you probably need to edit it before it goes in. Also, it has plenty of defaults like Tablespoon and ounces, but then there are other basic things missing in the list. Oh well.

So, I'm not a pro reviewer, and that's all I have for you. Try it out.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Corn Blinis with Papaya and Roasted Serrano and Garlic Salsa

I've been on a corn kick for a while. I think it's a pretty versatile ingredient, and compliments or champions just about any style or genre of cooking.

For this dish, I wanted something simple to travel. My wife's parents were up at their local house, and I wanted to make a snack for them before dinner. I did most of the prep before I left home (made the blini mix, roasted everything for the salsa, etc.). Having a picnic basket on hand was the perfect travel partner, so I iced it, packed it, and took it there.

Corn Blinis:

1 cup drained corn, processed and in a large mixing bowl.
add 1/2 cup flour
Pinch of salt
1 cup heavy cream

Mix well. If it's too wet, add flour. If it's too dry, add more corn and a bit of water. Think about pancake batter and that's the consistency you're shooting for. In fact, you'll cook them like pancakes, except you want a slightly lower heat because they take a bit longer than pancakes to cook.

Roasted Serrano and Garlic Salsa:

1 pound vine ripe tomatoes
1 head garlic
6 Serrano chilis

On a baking sheet slathered in olive oil, roast garlic, tomato and chilis (sprinkle some salt and pepper over) for about 45 - 60 minutes. If the chilis or garlic start to burn up, remove them before the tomatoes. You want the skin on the chilis and tomatoes to blacken. The garlic will mostly look browned and pale.

Pop the garlic out of its wrappers, take off the stems from the chilis and tomatoes, and blend all of it in a large processor. Squeeze juice from 2 limes, add some kosher salt, and a table spoon of vinegar. Blend again and cool for use.

Chop Papaya into pea size chunks.

Take the blinis and stack them with papaya and salsa. It's good stuff!


~ Brock

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Italian and Asian Crostini

It's been a long while since I've written a recipe. Not because I haven't wanted to. Not because I haven't cooked. In fact, I've been cooking a ton. So much so, the backlog is too much for me. Hopefully I'll catch up at some point, but it's doubtful. I read recipes all the time, but haven't followed one in years. Actually, that's not true. I follow the recipe for my crepes because I can never remember the proportions. But other than that, I don't. The problem is, I can't remember how to make things I cook. Truth be told, I often forget by the time I sit down to eat. Now that sucks.

But this is a simple one. A handful of ingredients and you can pretty much see them in the picture, so it's easy to remember.

Funny thing about this recipe is it's the midnight snack, although it's only 9:30p and that's been my cutoff for eating for the past three years. For a midnight snack, you need to make things with things you have on hand. Nothing serious, not too much prep. But you can't need anything you don't have. You must use as much of what you have on hand and be creative. That's the ticket.

Asian Crostini:

1 bunch of spinach, blanched 30 seconds in heavily salted water, roughly chopped
Thinly sliced watermelon, pan seared with olive oil
Ginger-Garlic Vinaigrette: small amount of fresh ginger, minced; 1 clove garlic, minced; dashes of chili oil, couple tablespoons of brown rice vinegar, tablespoon or so of Ponzu. Mix well.
Toasted crusty bread with olive oil. I lather both sides of the bread with olive oil and broil on high until browned.

Lay the breads out, arrange watermelon on top, pinch some spinach on top, and give it a dose of vinaigrette.

Italian Crostini:

Blackened corn: drained can corn, 1/2 small onion, chopped, 1 clove garlic. Add some olive oil to a pan and heat til smoking. Add the corn and onion, and let it turn black before a quick stir. Blacken the other side. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds, remove to a bowl.
Sun-Dried Tomato: If they're in oil, drain and chop. If they're dry, put in some hot water for 10 minutes, drain and chop.
Stock corn and tomato on crostini and top with a bit of olive oil and finishing salt. I had some truffle salt on hand, and that was good.
Oh yeah, I shaved a little pecorino over.

I think the Italian version would have been much better with a small amount of meat. Maybe fried pancetta or regular bacon.


~ Brock

Monday, January 31, 2011

Taiwanese Burrito...or spring roll or Luin Bia or Lumpia

I've heard it called all those things, but there are a few things I know for sure:

1) It's Taiwanese
2) It needs Chinese sausage to be complete
3) It's amazing
4) It's healthy
5) You don't need a special reason to make it, but it's a common dish at special occasions

So first off, you need to know the parts you won't find at Stater Bros. Ha Ha Ha. My first choice is usually 99 Ranch Market, but there are plenty of good Chinese grocery stores out there, so find your favorite and go for it.

This is a picture of the items you'll need, which may be hard to locate. In the picture you see the skins (top left), sausage (top right), peanut powder (bottom left), and baked tofu (bottom left).

So there's a lot of slicing and chopping, so get out a large cutting board, some large bowls, the items you see in the picture, and also:
1) 4 large leeks
2) 1 head cabbage
3) 5 eggs
4) 1-2 pounds bean sprouts
5) 1 pound pork loin (option- I don't care for this)
6) lima beans (option - I don't care for these either)

And here's the breakdown. It's a decent amount of prep work, so you might want all four burners going at the same time, as well as your toaster oven. That way it will all be warm when you're ready to eat:


Thinly slice and broil until cooked through and browned (maybe 4-5 minutes)


Beat well with a pinch of salt, then make think omelettes. Cool and slice into long pieces about 1/4" wide.


Slice into 1/4" x 2" pieces and pan fry with a bit of salt on medium until soft, caring not to brown.

Tofu & Leek:

Cut off green part of leeks and bottom. Slice white part into think slivers, horizontally across the shaft. Pan fry these on medium for about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, slice your tofu into very thin strips (check the picture above for detail). Add these and continue to fry until softened.

Bean Sprouts:

Drop into a large pot of boiling water and bit of salt for 1 minute. Drain, run under cold water, drain, and plate.

Peanut Power & Powder Sugar:

Mix about 2/3 powder sugar to 1/3 peanut powder.


You need a steamer for this. I have a Chinese steamer, but you can make one yourself if you have a large pot (big enough to hold a plate inside). For that, you take a large pot, you but a heat proof bowl upside down on the bottom,
and put a plate on top of the bowl. On top of the bowl, you lay a clean kitchen towel. You place the skins on top of that, and you cover with another clean kitchen towel. Fill the bottom with water, but below the plate. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer to steam. The big issue about steaming the skins is that you don't want too much moisture.

The Hot Sauce:

You absolutely cannot have this dish without this particular hot sauce. And, you can't just have this sauce, you must have minced or pressed garlic stirred in. I'm giving you the picture, because you can't mess this one up.

The Spread:

Once it's all ready to go, you plate it.

The Burrito:

And then you stuff it like a burrito, fold it and chow down!!


~ Brock

Monday, January 3, 2011

Chinese Fried Rice

There are so many ways to make fried rice. So many cultural influences and ingredients that can make it amazing, spicy, complex, and enjoyable. My fried rice is probably more of family-style, simple, yet flavorful arrangement. It's perfect for the days when you want a quick meal and have a few things on hand: cooked rice, eggs, onions, meat/shrimp. You really don't need anything else, but you can add many other things.

So here's the rundown.

Cook 2 cups of rice according to instructions. I use a Japanese rice maker by Zojirushi. It makes perfect rice. I used to refrigerate my rice before making fried rice, but I'm starting to like fresh-cooked fried rice. Try it both ways (cooked and cooked, or fresh cooked) and see which you prefer.

The other thing about making fried rice is you need all your ingredients chopped and ready to go in bowls/plates beside your cooking pan. This will keep you from burning one thing while you're getting something else ready to go.

And now onto the ingredients. I'm going to list my basic requirements, but you can substitute some or pretty much all of them. I'll drop in some reasons and alternatives as we go.

Yellow onion, sliced. You can't really replace the onion. I don't think shallots would do the job. You could use white or sweet onions, that's not a problem. You could also dice or chop the onion, that's fine too.

Chinese sausage. This imparts a significant component to my fried rice. It's sweet and savory, hearty, yet not overbearing. I use a Taiwanese brand, but you could use a Chinese or even Vietnamese brand. I suggest going into an Asian market...Chinese, Japanese or Vietnamese, and trying a few different brands. Pick the one you like and go with it. If you don't want to use sausage, or you're scared to shop for it, opt for some chopped ham.

Corn. If you use frozen, defrost it and get rid of the liquid. If you use canned, drain it well. Fresh is best if you want to cut it. Some people use small chunks of carrots or peas, or even green beans. I think many people use the bagged frozen kind, which is ok. I will use a Trader Joe's bagged white corn for this dish sometimes.

Shrimp. This is up to you, because it doesn't so much impart flavor to the rice as it is just a nice addition to the dish.

Green onion. Chop this up and leave it for the very end, uncooked. You toss this over your rice when it's done, or during the last 20 seconds of cooking.

Egg. Scramble 2 eggs with a bit of milk and sugar. Eggs are a must, but you can also just scramble them without milk and sugar.

Fish cake. Go into any Asian market and you'll find fishcake. You can try just about any type, and all are good...I've tried fried rice with every type, including the pink and white, and everything else. The fish cake isn't an absolute must, but I think it's a great addition that keeps you from going too American on this dish.

Flavoring. I prefer a bit of soy sauce mixed with oyster sauce, but I've tried it many, many different ways. Here are some thoughts. You want can use salt, or even granulated chicken bouillon . I've used that with great results. I also like to add crushed red pepper. You can make a quick and easy fried rice with just soy sauce as your flavoring. You can also add a bit of ketchup, which I've seen in a handful of Japanese-style recipes.

Once I have all my ingredients ready to go, I put them all in bowls and plates near my pan. I heat oil on high and cook each thing on high at a time. I start with my scrambled eggs, and keep them soft, just cooked and drop them into a large bowl. Then onions, corn, etc. As you cook each one, add it to your bowl. Then you fry your rice on high for a minute or two, add your flavoring, mix well, then add in all your cooked ingredients and mix well. Pour out back into your large bowl, sprinkle green onion. You're ready to go.


~ Brock