Monday, August 26, 2013

Fried Big Noodle with Pork

As I've mentioned before, I took a Thai cooking class while on vacation last year in Chiang Mai. As part of the class, we made several different dishes, but we were also provided with a booklet to take home with us including some additional recipes. A few weeks ago, I elected to make two of these dishes for a Sunday dinner party. The chicken satay dish was simply amazing. You can get the recipe here. The other dish was similar to a drunken noodle dish, dubbed "Fried Big Noodle with Sweet Soy Sauce" in the book. I managed to find fresh, big noodles at H-Mart. Score.  And this was quite tasty.

The recipe in the book is for two servings, but you can easily multiple for more people, which is what I did. Here's my best multiplication skills to make this for four people.

Fried Big Noodle with Pork (serves 4)

  • 12 oz. fresh big noodle
  • 8 oz. pork, thinly sliced
  • 4 TB oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 oz. kale, roughly chopped about 2-inches long
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 2 TB oyster sauce
Meat marinade:
  • 2 TB fish sauce
  • 2 TB soy sauce
  • 2 TB oyster sauce
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp pepper

Combine marinade ingredients and set sliced pork into dish with marinade. Chill for 30 minutes.

Cook noodles according to package instructions. Once just cooked, drain and set aside.

Heat 2 TB oil in wok on medium to low heat until oil is hot. Add garlic, stir for 2 minutes, then add pork. Cook until pork is no longer pink, 3-4 minutes, stirring on occasion. Add kale and stir for a minute until they are soft and start to wilt. Add noodle, soy sauce and oyster sauce. Stir to combine.

Move all of the mixture to one side of the wok, add 1 TB oil and beaten eggs, frying for 30 seconds. then combine with rest of noodle mixture.

Stir well and combine and serve.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

I'm a Cheater...When it Comes to Baking

I've inherited many gifts and attributes from my grandmother. The gift of gab? Check. Short stature with a commanding presence? Check check. My name? Biggest check of them all.

But there is one very big gift I did not get from my grandmother.When it comes to baking, I cheat. I don't have the patience and skills to make really elaborate desserts. My grandmother always had a cake that she had baked ready for us when we visited. She would take hours to make the perfect cookies at the holidays. When it comes to desserts, I've tried many times and I only succeed in rare instances, usually on basic cookies. But a cake or pie? Forget it.

I wanted to make cookies in the shape of bocce balls (round, how hard could that be?) for a friend's impending departure. I took many shortcuts to get to the finished produce.

Refrigerated sugar cookie dough? Check. It already being in a loaf making the cookies close to round? Check. Red dye to make the icing bocce red? Yep, that too.

However, they turned out a bit pink, and I ran out of decorative black icing 3 cookies in. But they tasted great and I can thank Pillsbury for helping me cheat and whip these cookies together quickly.


  • Sugar Cookie dough
  • Icing
  • Food dye


Buy these ingredients and follow their instructions.

Yep, I phoned this one in. :)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Tomatillo Peach Salsa and Taco Night!

Each week, a group of my friends in the neighborhood get together for an HBO viewing party. Several months ago it was Game of Thrones, the last several weeks have been for True Blood. It's a great excuse to watch some pretty ridiculous shows (let's be honest, True Blood is nutty) and eat some ridiculously good food. My neighbors Aniello and Jay always host since they have a ginormous TV, and a kitchen to die for. Due to some travel conflicts with our hosts, I stepped up to be in charge of this week's offerings. I opted for a Sunday fiesta of sorts, with two types of tacos and some homemade salsa. We had traditional beef tacos, but I also made one of my favorite fish taco recipes, which you can get here.

I have made salsa before, but never like this. My friend Nick at (seriously, I've been turning to his blog on the regular this summer...amazing stuff) posted a great peach salsa recipe last year that I had bookmarked, but peach season passed before I had a chance to make it. But not this time! This was simple and delicious. So go grab some peaches and do it!

Tomatillo Peach Salsa

  • 1 pound tomatillos
  • 2 large peaches
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1/3 cup red onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 lime, juice only
  • 2-3 TB cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste


Peel the tomatillos and halve them. Sprinkle with salt and roast at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.Let tomatillos cool slightly and puree in a food processor.

Seed jalapeno and chop finely. Also chop red onion and add to tomatillo puree.

For peaches, cut a small "X" on the end of each peach and dip in boiling water for about a minute. Remove peaches and use a paring knife to peel off skin. Dice peaches and add to salsa.

Add minced garlic and cilantro to salsa and season with salt and pepper.

I let it chill int he refrigerator for an hour or so before serving, which I think helped the flavors really meld together. This salsa was hands-down ten times better than the jarred variety we also had. Awesome!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Kitchen Nightmare: Homemade Red Curry Paste

I know you all find this hard to believe, but I occasionally screw things up in the kitchen. And I'm not afraid to blog about it. Usually there is a very good reason for my failure. Perhaps because I was missing a few ingredients that were much more critical to the success of the dish than I realized. Or more than likely, I was attempting to bake, where you can't just guesstimate measurements.

In the case of the red curry...I wish I knew what happened. I obtained this red curry paste recipe during my cooking class in Thailand. Sure, the translation may be a bit off. My personal favorite instruction in the notes section: "Put less small chili and add more big chili in case of eating chili problem."

Let's just put it this way. What I made following this recipe was a BIG chili problem.

What you see on the right here is what was my finished product after following this recipe. I even ventured out to H-Mart in Virginia to get some of these awesome ingredients (though I still had the small dried red chilis that I brought back with me from Thailand...even 10 months later those babies are POTENT).

It should not look like this at all, and I know this because I've bought red curry paste before when making various Thai dishes. Before I got ambitious. But what it all boils down to is that I learned that sometimes, it is just easier and less painful (don't handle chilis and touch anywhere on your face. Ever.)

So perhaps you're feeling ambitious and want to try this out. If you do, and you get it to come out the right consistency, please let me know how you did it!


Dried Spices
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds, roasted until fragrant
  • 2 cardamom pods, roasted until fragrant
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • pinch of salt
  • 3-5 dry big red chilies (seeds removed and soaked in water for at least 10 minutes)
  • 1-8 small dried chilies for extra spicy
  • 1 tsp galangal, skin removed, chopped
  • 1 TB lemongrass, chopped
  • 1 piece kaffir lime peel, chopped
  • 1 tsp coriander root, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp shrimp paste.
Please note: Can use coriander stem, instead of root. Can use fresh ginger root, instead of galangal or Thai ginger.


Put the small chilies, coriander seeds, cardamom pods, black peppercorns into a stone mortar and pound them into a powder. You can use a food processer instead, per the instructions.

I never got a powder. that was problem #1.

Then add the rest of the ingredients and pound for 15 minutes until paste is smooth.

You've seen the photos. There ain't nothin' smooth about it.

Anyone up to the challenge?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Spinach Artichoke Orzo

I like orzo pasta. It's quick, quite versatile, and is a great addition to a variety of vegetable dishes. Last week, my friend Nick at posted check another orzo recipe I just HAD to try. I altered the ingredients slightly to accommodate what I had on hand, but it turned out alright despite not following his recipe to the letter. However, I still prefer some other orzo dishes I've made in the past. In fact, last week I made my favorite orzo side dish which you can find the recipe for here:

But here's the recipe for Spinach Artichoke Orzo. If you're feeling ambitious, make them both and see what you prefer. They are both great for "pack your lunch" workdays.

Spinach Artichoke Orzo (serves 4-5)


  • 10 oz orzo pasta, cooked and rinsed 
  • 1/2 red onion, diced 
  • 1 bag of spinach, washed well 
  • 6 oz marinated artichokes, drained 
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (in oil), diced 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 2 TB olive oil 
  • 3/4 cup shredded Asiago cheese 
  • Salt and pepper 


Chop onion, sun-dried tomatoes, and artichokes.

In a large skillet, add a drizzle of olive oil and the diced red onion over medium-high heat. Cook for a 3-4 minutes or until onion softens. Season with a pinch of salt.Add artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic and continue to cook for another minute or two.

Meanwhile, cook the orzo according to package instructions, approximately 9 minutes. Once cooked, drain and rinse with cold water.

Add washed spinach to the skillet. Cook until spinach is wilted, just a minute or two.

Stir in orzo and season with salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.

Serve salad warm or cold with cheese.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Food Porn: Montreal

Two weeks ago I traveled to Canada for my yearly international trip. The pact I made with myself a few years ago to take one international trip year has taken me to some amazing places, most recently Thailand. Food always plays a big role in my travels and I'm not afraid to admit that I look to what the food will be like (as well as the other sights and attractions of a country...but let's be real, food is a driving force).

This year, I opted to take a short trip to our neighbor to the north: Canada. My visit to the United States' hat was filled with food and I was provided a checklist of sorts for things I needed to eat while I was there. From smoked meat sandwiches to poutine to raw cheese...I hit them all.

Much like the city of Montreal itself, which is a bachelor party dream from the peep shows to sex shops to late bar hours, the food in the city is incredible sexy. It's French. It's rich. It's meaty. Food-gasms abound. Enjoy the recap.

While in Montreal, I had the pleasure of going to two foodie staple restaurants: The Liverpool House and Au Pied de Cochon. The former is a sister restaurant to Joe Beef, one of the most celebrated restaurants in the city. They're known for their meat dishes (including a foie gras double joke). But I elected to go to their more fish heavy restaurant. This is where I probably ate my favorite dish of the trip. This scallop and pork belly dish (pictured on the right) was cooked to perfection and I loved the combination of flavors.

The visit to Au Pied de Cochon was a bit more on the rich side. While there, my dining companion and I indulged on meat products, namely something referred to as the "melting pot." Essentially, this was every type of sausage and pork cut you can imagine, placed in a bowl over mashed potatoes. Good God. The blood sausage put it over the top. Get a load of that bowl of sausage. Hot, isn't it?

I also had yet to have poutine during the trip, so here is where I tried my first Canadian poutine. And it was covered in foie gras. I had to be rolled out of this place. But a girl's gotta eat.  But we elected not to get the Pig's Head for two. You have to draw the line somewhere...

I'm not usually much of a rich food eater, but there are two areas that I do like to regularly indulge in: cheese and craft beer. I got to do both while in Montreal, enjoying a hibiscus beer (wonderful on a hot day) and visiting Atwater Market, home to what I'm told is the best fromagerie in Montreal.

I can't even begin to describe how amazing the cheese was, in particular the non-pasteurized variety. Raw cheese is wonderful, and I stocked up on the good stuff before spending a day at the botanical gardens. I also had a great black rind cheddar cheese that was salty and velvety. This particular cheese came at the recommendation of the foodie tour host, who I talked to at great length the previous day of where to go and what to eat in the city.

Something highly amusing happened while I was at the fromagerie. Amidst all these amazing cheeses, raw and non-raw, every type of specialty cheese you can imagine, the cheesemonger was faced with a very tough question by one of the counter visitors.

The question was not of the technical variety, like "how is cheese made?" or of the sympathetic to goats variety like "were the goats in a happy environment when their milk was taken for use in this cheese?" (though I would love to hear the answer to that one!)

No, the question was this: "Excuse me, do you have Kraft cheese?"

The below photo was taken at the botanical garden and pretty much sums up my reaction to this question.


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Homemade Marinara and Meatballs

There are plenty of jarred sauces out there. However, I think when you have a little time to kill, it's worth it to make a homemade sauce.

I have made this sauce a few times, and every time it turn out a bit differently. It makes for a small army, so I suggest having company over for this. It also freezes amazingly well. I will be breaking out some of the frozen sauce in the coming weeks as I continue to pack my lunch daily.

I've posted this on here before, but I'm reposting because I've made some adjustments to how I make it, improving it a bit, in my book at least.

  • Olive oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • fresh chopped parsley (guesstimate, I have no idea how much I ended up using)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 TB oregano
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Fresh basil (approximately 1/4 cup)
  • 3 (28 oz) cans of crushed tomatoes (plum, preferably) in sauce
  • 1 (15 oz) can of tomato sauce
  • 2 carrots (cut up)
  • 1 TB salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 3 sweet Italian sausage links
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Put olive oil in large cooking pot, put enough in to cover the bottom of the pan. Put the chopped garlic and chopped onions in and simmer until light brown color.

Add the 3 cans of tomatoes in sauce. Also add tomato sauce and mix. Add the cut up carrots, which help cut the acidity in the sauce.

Next add the salt and chopped parsley. Add basil leaves and oregano to the sauce. Add bay leaves and 1/2 tsp sugar in the gravy. Simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the ground beef, eggs, parsley, bread crumbs, 1/2 tsp salt and a little pepper. Sprinkle in the garlic and onion powders. Mix up and make into meatballs. Put the meatballs into a frying pan coated in olive oil and brown each side. This should take approximately 5 minutes. Then add meatballs to the sauce.

Add sausage to the sauce. It should naturally crumble during the course of cooking. The meat can probably sit in the sauce for up to 1 1/2 hours as it simmers.

Enjoy over your favorite pasta. I like to serve with fresh shredded parmesan.