Dining with Out-Laws
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May I introduce my little pumpkin pie, the ultimate fan favorite Thanksgiving dessert?! Some lifetime memories were made late last night after we devoured two rounds of turkey and glazed ham married with my new kimchi sofrito recipe. Afterwards- we were greeted by the inevitable delectable pumpkin pie, who sat next to a perfect pecan pie. They were both pinched long before dessert time of course. But who can blame a room full of overstuffed adults and children? Not me….and I certainly couldn’t say no to anyone asking for more whipped cream…Hope you had fun with yours, because we certainly did!
Me: You didn’t smile. Can you smile for me?
Me: That’s such a fake smile Daniel! Ugh- just eat your pie then.
Daniel: Yay! Yes! Yes! Yes!
Daniel: Huh? On my fork?
Me: No. Just open wide!!
Daniel: Um, ok.
Me: You want some too Alex?
Mozie: I don’t think so. Get that device away from my furry face! (jumps off the couch and hides)
Me: I love you more my little black beauty.
I recently went on a culinary voyage to my home away from home. To the place I called home for three primal years of my life. Going to Korea to eat my heart out- I couldn’t leave without having my favorite childhood food- the inevitable ice cream which haunted me for decades, as this little thing was the last thing I remembered eating before taking off into the unknown (South America) with my parents and brother. I didn’t find the strawberry flavor I coveted so much- but instead discovered a new one, pistachio with a chocolate ball at the very end for happy endings.
Inspect the little big thing at first.
I wonder if this ice cream missed me as much as I did…
The taste just fills me up with utter joy!
I went out and bought three of them and had it for breakfast!
Auntie: Rina, did you have breakfast?
Me: Um- yea, having some ice cream right now…
Auntie: for breakfast? You’ll get diarrhea!!
Me: Well- I already had two of them so it’s a tad bit late now don’t you think?
Ok- I gotta go now, have lots of things to do (eat my ice cream in peace!!)
there’s a chocolate ball awaiting to be Devoured!
The end~ till we meet again,
hopefully it’ll be sooner than later…
To be continued…
Want to know how to be a stylin’ with your juicy juice? Here’s my guide on how to drink from a sippy cup:
Doesn’t juice make everyone happy? It certainly makes me happy…
I hope there’s nothing floating in my sippy cup.
I’m so glad I can finally put my feet up at the end of a long day…
The birds are singing outside…the sun’s shining…
There’s nothing I would rather do then..to be sipping on some juice with my sippy cup.
Guess what I’m having!
It’s made with grapes.
Do you want some of this grape juice in a sippy cup?
Howdy! Here’s a whole new category called Favorite Moments where I’ll be sharing how to eat your heart out with style. It’s not just what you’re eating that counts, how you do it makes up about fifty percent of the overall experience. Here’s a guide on how to eat a peach:
“Hello? What? You want to know how to eat a peach? Um…ok. I’ll take some pics with my iphone.”
Hello happy peach.
Fuzzy little thing, aren’t you?
The first bite is always the best…
That was pretty good. I think I must finish eating this fruit.
And a second bite shortly thereafter…
Do you want to try this? I know you do, trust me, it’s really good.
I’m about halfway through eating this.
It’s just me and the peachy peach.
Almost done, down to the pit.
Devoured. The End~
At the International Chefs Congress last week I got to attend live cooking demos with way-noteworthy chefs exhibiting the new technologies used in food science stuff. I even learned how to distill beer into heavily concentrated liquor. The Inventor, Polyscience President Phillip Preston, brought with him a portable laboratory for super food enthusiasts, including gadgets as out there as a smoking gun.
Maybe I’m just a bit of a kitchen-tech nerd, but I recognized the gun. A few years ago there was this show where chefs competed for a top prize, and one year this guy showed up with all sorts of astral-looking equipment, and then whopped out liquid nitrogen and made instant ice cream.
For my daily breakfast I consumed Nespresso’s macchiato and stopped by the Emmi Roth USAcheese folks to grab me some aged gruyere every morning.
It all ended, three days later with the 2011 Vitamix Challenge being judged in a pseudo iron chef style competition. And let me tell you, the dishes were phenomenal! Last year one of the contestant’s managed to steam a fish, in the blender machine, using only boiling water and speed. Pretty neat, eh?!
The entire competition took no more than an hour from start to finish. Each contestant had some additional time to prepare mise en place ahead of time.
I saw glimpses of sausage casing and pigs blood at one end; neither my favorite ingredient, but amazing to see what looked like a vampire’s meals on display. Others brought in vacuum-sealed steaks, fine cuts of dry aged prime sirloin.
The winning dish this year came at the hands of chef Asbel Reyes of SideBern Restaurant in Tampa Florida, who made Pumpkin Banana Pie using N20 (liquid nitrogen) in the mixing process. His set up reminded me of my line cooking days: everything labeled, packed, organized and separated into steps. I remember browsing through the ingredients before the start of the competition and a nerd alert light bulb firing up.
Finally, after all that cooking, freezing, blending and plating…the dishes looked absolutely stunning:
Earth and Turf by Adam Hegsted – Coeur d’ Alene Casino and Resort, Spokane, WA
Unagi and Foie Gras Terrine with Pickled Eel, Hibiscus, and Frozen Uni Powder by Seth Siegel-Gardner – Kata Robata, Houston, TX
Pumpkin Banana Pie by Asbel Reyes of SideBern’s Restaurant Tampa, FL
Idiazabel Soup with blood sausage, acorn squash, apple butter, and Urfa pepper by Jamie Bissonnette – Coppa & Toro, Boston, MA
Roasted Loin of Cervena Venison, Liver Mushroom Croquette, Brussels sprouts, Woodland Mushrooms, Berries, and Vadouvan Curry Reduction by Dirk Flanigan – The Gage / Henri, Chicago, IL
Final say was up to judges, who deliberated over their many tasty bites…
And announced their winner, none other than Asbel.
The 2011 Vitamix Challenge Winner
Pastry Chef Asbel Reyes of SideBern’s Restaurant
Dish: Pumpkin Banana Pie
The winner was announced in the main stadium mid afternoon- something like half an hour after they finished the competition (Pretty short deliberation). Wyle Dusfrene, chef at WD-50 in New York, NY participated as a judge. Here’s the key reason why Asbel won: He poured N20 directly into the blender, used it multiple times during the hour-long competition, he was over prepared (chefs like this a lot), and he worked fast. I think pouring the N20 directly into the blender did the trick however. And his dish looked very pretty and tasty too. Here’s how the judges broke down the score:
Judges based the challengers on plating technique, uniqueness utilization of equipment and of course how the whole thing tasted.
Equipment use: 50%
Before I said my farewell to the amazing Disneyland of gadgets, food science and newly attained knowledge, I managed to squeeze in a visit to the main stadium and watched a video of El Huevo Roto as Andoni Luis Adruiz himself explained. The video demo of his egg shell project, made with vegetarian based powders and potions. It looked like a real egg shell. The plating technique requires “cracking the egg” in front of the customer, served tableside (are we attracting Michelin Stars?-hmmm). I was blown away and in awe. Rethinking food is the least we can say about what I witnessed. This my friends was how I spent a fun-filled three day adventure at the Starchefs.com International Chefs Conference, amazed by all the gadgets and space food that will indeed tickle the sixth sense (this year’s theme) out of you. I can’t wait to go back next year and see what the chefs are up to again. Since it wouldn’t come soon enough- I’ll spend some time experimenting on my own until then.
More info on El Huevo Roto HERE
Cheers to the geek squad for inventing all the toys a chef and foodies can dream about!
I made a pumpkin soup a day before rolling up my sleeves to make pasta. Deliciously orange-colored dough with layers upon layers of flavor — it was almost too beautiful to eat. It’s a fun twist on making pasta, plus a great way to make use of leftover soup. Wait, what, you made pasta using the pumpkin soup? Allow me explain…
Hand Rolled Pumpkin Pasta with Spaghetti Squash and Sage
For the pumpkin soup
Yields about 6 cups
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium sweet pumpkin
2 tablespoons butter
1 white onion, chopped
1 quart vegetable stock
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
For the pumpkin pasta
Yields 4 servings
2 cups all purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
1 cup pumpkin soup
pinch of salt
For the pumpkin sage sauce
1 spaghetti squash, split in half
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
5-6 sage leaves, sliced thinly
fresh ground pepper
fresh grated gruyere cheese
Place pumpkin on an oiled baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. Remove from heat and scoop out pumpkin chunks with a spoon. Set aside.
In a large stockpot, melt butter and cook onions in low heat for about 5 minutes until they are translucent. Add vegetable stock, nutmeg and pumpkin.
Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about half an hour and blend in batches. Season to taste with salt.
Place spaghetti squash on an oiled baking sheet in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for about an hour. Remove and scoop out with a fork. Set aside.
Place flour on a cold countertop surface. Make a well in center, add beaten egg, oil, and pumpkin soup. Fold in flour and knead dough until smooth for about five minutes. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for an hour.
Roll out dough, cut into 8 sections. Make long snakes, cut into small 1 inch pieces. Roll out small snakes and twist at each end.
Bring salted water to a boil in a large pot. Cook pasta for 4 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Melt butter in a sauce pan, add pumpkin soup, heavy cream and sage. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in spaghetti squash and pasta. Top with shredded gruyere cheese.
Inspired by the recent bout of cold weather, I thought about all the preserved ingredients (namely, dried mushrooms) coming our way. With three kinds of mushrooms and four kinds cheese, I managed to bake off a little pizza I’m rather proud of.
Pair it with iced or green tea, or go with a nice cocktail instead. Here’s a great pizza recipe for those of you who love rustic, creamy and mushroomy pizza.
Tri-Mushroom and 4 Cheese Pizza
Yields one large pie
1 Pound Pizza dough (frozen or fresh)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup dried porcini mushrooms (torn into small pieces and soaked in water for 30 minutes then strained)
½ cup dried shitake mushrooms (same as above)
1 cup white button mushrooms (sliced)
1 cup of chippolini onions, sliced
¼ cup fresh ricotta cheese
¼ cup grated gruyere cheese (aged 10 months)
¼ cup grated gruyere cheese (aged over 12 months)
¼ cup fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced and torn
In a medium saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and place onions, add salt and allow them to carmelize in high heat for about 3 minutes. Sitr frequently to distribute heat and ensure even cooking. Remove from heat and set aside. Use the same pan, add two more tablespoons of olive oil and place white button mushrooms. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and cook for about 2-3 minutes on high heat until mushrooms are browned. Stir in porcini and shitake mushrooms. The liquid from these two beauties should give you enough moisture to deglaze the pan. Continue cooking for about 2 more minutes, add a dash of salt, remove from heat and set aside.
Prepare pizza dough on a greased baking sheet and stretch your dough to your hearts desire. Or you can follow my simple pizza stretching dough instructions here (from Mediterrenean pizza recipe).
Assemble your toppings! Cheese first, starting with the smoothest (ricotta), add mozzarella and top with two varieties of gruyere. Add mushrooms and onions.
Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes. Remove, slice, serve.
I love challenges and paying bargain prices for nice looking veggies. If you’re not that familiar with seasonal produce shopping, then friends let me introduce you to my little friend: the fine art of buying the freshest, nicest looking and great tasting vegetables (and cheaply) from your local farm supply.
Steps to figuring out what’s cheap or what’s on sale:
1. What’s on sale at the big commercial supermarket (though they most likely do carry seasonal items) is not always what’s in season. Just because something’s on sale doesn’t mean it’s in season. The key word you’re looking for is local. Look around you. Don’t be shy if you don’t know. Ask a few older folks — they’ve likely been around the block longer than you and might just know a thing or two about the region.
2. Looking on the web doesn’t hurt. Search the key words: “Farm”, “farmer’s market”, plus (+) your zip code and see what pops up.
3. Last but not least, visit websites like this one (Food2.com, meatlessmondays.com, slowfoodusa.com) where we list what’s local and in season right now, and tell you how to cook up the recipes!
I am very lucky to live nearby a little forest of local Farms (not literal, just describing here folks). At De Piero’s farm in Montvale New Jersey, they grow their own varieties of heirloom tomatoes that just left us recently. If you haven’t been following my farmer posts and where to buy what, check out my heirloom tomato article here.
Right now is the beginning of the Fall Harvest Season. The last “pick your own” farm I visited had ripened pumpkins ready to be ransacked by herds of mommies and their kids. I was very much tempted at grabbing them right then and there, but thought to leave room for the upcoming weeks of cooking, so I left the pumpkins alone. I went there to nab some of the local apples (which are also very much in season right now). I picked my golden, delicious gala apples two weeks ago and managed to cook off a beautifully fragrant apple butter.
This week I’m writing about my $5 Slow Food Challenge. At De Piero’s, I found one of my favorite fall/winter vegetables: Butternut Squash, boys and girls, and for only $.79/pound! I was ecstatic. The sight of the sale-sign (much like the time I found zucchini flowers) and fact that they were local and ripe for the cooking had me planning my meal before I had even picked out the produce. I also managed to pick me up a cute little orange tagine clay pot-cooker-serving piece. Clearly the meal was shapping up.
I found zucchini and squash, too (fortunately, since supplies are limited at this time of year), a beefsteak tomato and fresh cranberry beans. I looked at my little shopper’s basket and visualized a fragrant succotash in my orange tagine, brewing up in my kitchen, its sweet aromas filling up the air, luring little children from the backyard to come back into the house and eat their vegetables. Ok, so maybe there weren’t any children involved, but you get the point — I couldn’t wait to get cooking. So I rushed home that afternoon and made my stirred up Autumn Succotash.
It’s seasonal, it’s sustainable, and the best part of it is that it cost me just about $5.00 to create a beautiful, bountiful fall harvest dish (that DEFINITELY serves more than one person). I’d eat this any day of the week, whether in September, October, November or December, and certainly before any fast food value meal that would cost me more money and health.
So go on, taste the season, and for 5 bucks only.
Succulent Autumn Succotash Recipe:
Yields 2 servings
1 butternut squash, diced
1 zucchini, sliced with mandolin
2 yellow squash, sliced with mandolin
2 cloves garlic
1 beefsteak tomato, sliced
1/2 cup fresh cranberry beans
1/2 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
In a tagine, place slices of tomato on the bottom. Add diced butternut squash with cranberry beans. Place sliced zucchini and squash on top. Drizzle olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Simmer on the stove top for about an hour stirring occasionally.
Uncover and enjoy!
Here’s the break down of the food cost for this recipe:
Butternut Squash (in season right now in the NE Coast $1.71 @ .79/pound)
1 Zucchini and 1 Yellow Squash ($1.74 @ 2.99/pound)
2 Garlic Cloves (pennies)
4 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (pennies)
1 Beefsteak Tomato ($.98 @ $2.49/pound)
½ cup fresh cranberry beans ($1.15/3.99/pound)
Grand total: $5.58/ dinner for 2=$2.79/person!
You can include bread in your shopping trip if you’re dining as a pair and that would bring the grand total to less than $5.00/person for the $5 Slow Food Challenge!
Bibimbap is a signature Korean comfort food. The word directly translates as “mixed meal.” I rummaged through my fridge and found all sorts of vegetables and herbs, and thought about making a quick and easy version here.
I went to a local market and found American ginseng over the weekend. Ginseng is used as a natural remedy to help boost the immune system and lower blood pressure. It’s a bit on the bitter side, so mix it into sauces or use as an aromatic in brasing liquids. I paired it here with Korean jujubes, persimmon vinegar (another great find) and gochujang (Korean fermented red chilli paste), and it was amazing.
Vegetable Bibimbap with Jujube and Ginseng Hot Chilli Sauce
For the sauce
2 tablespoons persimmon or apple vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh minced ginseng
2 jujubes, chopped
1 cup cooked medium grain rice (sticky rice)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 California carrots, julienned
1 zucchini, julienned
1 cup daikon radish, julienne
1 cup hydrated shitake mushrooms, julienned
1 cup assorted peppers, julienned
1 egg, cooked sunnyside up (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium non-stick skillet, add a tablespoon of oil and sauté vegetables starting with zucchini (least pungent) on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cook for about 2-3 minutes until tender. Repeat steps for carrots, shitake mushrooms and peppers. Daikon is served raw (but you can cook them if you wish).
In a big bowl, place rice in center with vegetables surrounding it. Serve it with an egg or you may substitute it with tofu or any other legume. Mung bean sprouts are excellent also!
Mix hot chilli sauce to desired level of spiciness and enjoy!