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Archive for the ‘Home Creation’ Category

Salmon Salad

In Food, Home Creation on August 1, 2014 at 10:44

The lovely sunny days in the Northwest we had been having were fantastic and absolutely enjoyable.

The side effect of the heat was that it made me lost appetite.

The appetite that was left in the cooler evening made me craved cold food.

Coupled with the abundance of fresh vegetables in the summer time, I created this light salmon salad, taking after the conventional tuna salad.

It was great with bread or crackers, as filling for sandwich or on its own.

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It contained lots of vegetables and I used fava beans in this as it was one of the sweetest beans and fresh in the season to have.

Its unique flavor was highly priced.

It was, however, a very low yield produce — 1 lb of fava beans resulted in about 1/3 cup of cooked beans.

Feel free to omit fava beans in the recipe if preparing fava beans was too much trouble or lack of supply.

Fennel was also used for its crunchy freshness and mild licorice flavor.

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FAVA BEANS PREPARATION

Shell the outer long layer of the beans

Cook the shelled beans in boiling water for about 2 mins to soften the inner shell

Quickly drain the beans and rinse with cold water, drain again

Shell the beans again to remove the harder shell

 

INGREDIENTS

2 cans of wild salmon

1 bulb of fennel

1 bunch spinach

1 lb fresh fava beans, prepared and cooked as described above

4 tsp Japanese mayonnaise*

juice from 1/3 of a lemon

salt

pepper

 

DIRECTIONS

Cut spinach into sections about 2 inches long, wash and drain

Blanch spinach in boiling water — take the spinach out as soon as they turn bright green

Immediately drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again

Using hand, squeeze excess water from spinach until they were nearly dry^

Empty and drain cans of wild salmon

Using a fork, break the salmon chunks apart to small pieces

Slice the bulb part of the fennel into thin slices, washed and drained

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Mix spinach, fava beans, fennel, salmon, Japanese mayo and lemon juice together

Add salt and pepper to taste

 

*this version has very light mayo, feel free to modify if a creamier salmon salad is desired

^ this process would take a while as spinach retained lots of water.  The drier the spinach, the less runny the final product would be.

 

 

New Hing Loon and Spicy Miso Black Cod

In Eating Out, Food, Home Creation on June 13, 2014 at 09:56

During my party years, I went to Hing Loon a lot.

It was one of those places that opened until really late at night.

I had fond memory of Hing Loon from way back in the early 90’s, when they were one of the few edible Chinese food restaurants in Seattle Chinatown when I freshly came from Hong Kong.

My favorite had been the salt and pepper fried chicken wings — fried to crisp, well-flavored with garlic and fresh chilies, meat was tender, always a treat.

I liked their wings the best — some places made it soggy, some places did not have enough flavors (plain fried wings), and they seemed to find the perfect balance.

It used to be my destination wing stop!

When I passed by couple months ago I noticed the English name of the restaurant had changed to New Hing Loon, although the Chinese name stayed the same, the place had likely changed hands.

We went with friends anyway for late dinner and really hoping that my favorite would stayed the same!

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Verdict was – it was good, but not as good as before.

The flavors were there, but I believe they coated it with some flour now, so there was pockets of coating instead of plain crisp skins.

It was still a light coating, just not the same.  Alas!

The fried rice was a little bland and not dry enough.

We also had “west lake” beef soup.

It had tender beef and soft tofu with floral cilantro.

It was delicious and exactly how I knew it.

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We got Mongolian beef which was very tender but overly salted.

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Pea vine was fresh but the fried tofu dish with enoki mushroom was super salty.

The tofu was fried crisp with steaming hot egg tofu inside, but I couldn’t taste the enoki mushroom sauce much aside from salt.

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I did not recall that they had a problem with salt levels before, hopefully that would be fixed and they could deliver consistently salted food.

New Hing Loon on Urbanspoon

Spicy Black Cod

This dish is so simple to make it is practically a cop-out on cooking!

Yet, it is delicious and has the added benefit to introduce healthy fermented foods in the body.

Both Japanese miso and the Korean pepper paste were fermented and, the primary flavors of this dish.

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INGREDIENTS

1 black cod fillet (half the fish)

1.5 tbsp. miso

1/3 tbsp. Korean fermented pepper paste

1 tbsp. sake

1 tbsp. hot water

white peppers

 

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 380F.

Pat dry fish fillet and sprinkled white pepper generously.

Mix miso, pepper paste, sake and hot water together until melted and smooth.

Spread the paste on top of the fish fillet evenly.

Bake for 8 mins.

Change the setting to Broil for 1-2 minutes.

 

I have used this recipe on salmon and it worked beautifully as well.

Enjoy!

Indian Pizza and Berbere Kale Chips

In Eating Out, Food, Home Creation on April 25, 2014 at 11:12

Why would I blog about Can Am Pizza?

Because our neighborhood Can Am Pizza is special!

This Can Am pizza serves Indian pizzas.

They have chicken and paneer pizzas, served with sides of yogurt and extra jalapenos if one wishes.

My favorite is the butter chicken pizza.

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L: DH’s favorite Hawaiian without cheese — R: butter chicken pizza

Thick, rich, savory and spicy butter curry chicken on top of soft bready pizza crust, it was most definitely another experience to enjoy Indian food!

The pizza crust was not anything special, but it was good enough as a vehicle for the saucy butter chicken.

I tried their tandoori chicken pizza and it was decent — but I found it less unique as it tasted similar to grilled chicken pizza.

The hotness level was definitely not for spicy wimps — I usually had my mouth and ears burning with mild.

Indian pizza from Can Am was definitely one of those unique, cheap and delicious grub!

Can Am Pizza on Urbanspoon

 

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I LOVE kale chips!

Easy and fast to make, healthy and delicious!

I have been playing around to spice up the kale chips and really like this recipe with Berbere.

Berbere is a super versatile Ethiopian spice blend — earthy, aromatic and spicy hot!

I got the inspiration to try cooking with Berbere after reading Yes Chef.

Caution: this recipe is pretty spicy hot especially if being consumed non-stop (which was what I did)!

Enjoy!

 

Berbere Kale Chips

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INGREDIENTS

1 bunch of curly kale

1/4 tsp salt

1.5 tsp Berbere

1 tbsp. olive oil

 

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven at 380F

Tear kale leaves only into bite size pieces*

Wash kale leaves and remove excess water in a salad spinner

Coat kale leaves with olive oil thoroughly

Add berbere and salt little bit at a time, mixing the spices throughout kale leaves as uniformly as possible^

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Bake for 8 mins and it is done!

 

*I save the stalk of kale for soups

^the curly leaves make it difficult to spread the spices evenly; as a result, adding small amount and mixing evenly is essential for final eating experience

 

 

Taylor Shell Fish and Dairy Free Leek Quiche

In Eating Out, Food, Home Creation on March 28, 2014 at 15:11

Doof Home

Made this dairy free quiche and loved it!

With a dash of tabasco, it was zesty and delicious!

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INGREDIENTS

2 leeks, cut out leaves and roots, slice vertically in half and slice finely

3 eggs, whisk

1/2 cup of soy milk

1/2 cup of coconut milk

1/2 lb of soft tofu, mashed to very small lumps and drained

1 pre-made Pie Crust (I use Trader Joe’s)

1/2 + 1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp parsley

1 tsp thyme

 

DIRECTIONS

Defrost pie crust at room temperature until completely soft.

Preheat oven at 380F.

Mush the tofu further, add salt, parsley and thyme.  Mix well.

Heat oil in high heat until smoky.

Add sliced leek and about 1/4 tsp of salt to cook until soft.  Remove from heat.

Roll out pie crust on a round baking pan.

Place leeks at the bottom, spread evenly.

Drain the tofu mixture further and spread evenly on top of leeks.

Add soy and coconut milk to whisked eggs and mix well.

Pour mixture on top on the leek and tofu layer, take care to fill spaces between tofu mixture.

Place pan in oven and bake for about 40 mins or until crust and top is golden.

Enjoy!

 

Doof Out

As a part of entertaining out-of-town guests, I was to showcase the abundance of seafood we had in the Pacific Northwest.

Found out that my guests loved oysters, we went to Taylor Shellfish Farm at Melrose Market.

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The small store was very simple, with kitchen at the back and a few tables in the front.

Customers could purchase seafood on the side — oysters, clams etc.

My guests, including my parents were in heaven!

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Gigantic platter of fresh oysters all locally farmed around the Pacific Northwest.

Amazingly plump, juicy and carried the taste of the sea with every one of the gem, large or small.

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We ordered half a crab and the meat was completely sweet, meaty and tender.

Geoduck was ordered sashimi style.

They were superbly sweet and crunchy.

Thinly sliced to perfection, every bite brought a whiff of the ocean.

L: geoduck sashimi -- R: geoduck chowder

L: geoduck sashimi — R: geoduck chowder

Taylor Shell Fish Farm export large amount of local geoducks to China.

This year, the Chinese decided geoducks from US, largely from Washington and Alaska, did not meet their health standard, which was largely disagreed by the Washington State Department of Health who routinely checked our shell fish for toxins .

Nonetheless, we now have large supply of geoduck to consume locally.

Two soups were available that day: oyster stew and geoduck chowder.

The oyster stew was creamy with great flavor, a little starchier than my liking.

The geoduck chowder, however was fantastic!

It was spicy with gradual built-up heat, lots of vegetables with fresh tomato flavors.

It contains lots of geoduck bits, mostly the softer non-trunk part.

The small bread roll accompanying the soups were delicious as well — sour dough with rosemary and large granules of sea salt, soft inside with a chewy and flavorful crust.

Taylor Shellfish on Urbanspoon

 

Water Kefir

In Food, Health, Home Creation on March 12, 2014 at 10:44

Doof In

<…continuation from Kombucha and Water Kefir>

My choice to brew water kefir was its huge range of acceptable temperature for brewing: from 39F to 86F, with the ideal range from 65F to 82F.

This temperature range worked naturally for our climate in the NW without any mention of encouragement of harmful bacteria growing in this range.

To me, that was safe and low maintenance.

…and I took the plunge, and it had been fun.

I got my grains from Keysands and I got the live ones (rather than dried).

The ratio for brewing was super easy to remember: 1 tablespoon of sugar to 1 cup of water to 1 tablespoon of kefir grains.

kefir grains at the bottom of pitcher

kefir grains at the bottom of pitcher

The kefir grains liked aerobic environment, hence I had it set up in a pitcher with cheese cloth on top, secured with a rubber band.

It took a while for the grains to “wake up” from their travel.

My first batch hardly had any activity and did not yield any extra grains after the first batch.

In subsequent batches, I could see bubbles actively forming – a sure sign that there was fermentation going on.

Every batch I brewed was supposed to yield double the starting amount of kefir grains; however, I had only been yielding about 1 tablespoon extra each batch.

I believe it was because I was brewing at the low-end of the desirable temperature range.

Turned out according to Keysands, I should add some refined sugar in my mix.

I used coconut and palm sugar that I bought from Trader Joe’s for my brew, which was 100% unrefined sugar.

By mixing little bit of refined sugar, there were more readily available sugar in the system for the kefir grains to digest.

Most instruction said that a batch could be done in 24 to 48 hours; however, I found the resulting drink still was too sweet for me, and I had been brewing them for 3 days (the longer a batch was brewed, the more sugars being digested by bacteria and yeasts).

I have also been playing around with second fermentation.

Second fermentation happened after the first brew was filtered and kefir grains removed.

Most of the time it was done to increase fizziness of the drinks; consequently, it was important to use air-tight containers.

If increasing fizziness was not important, I had second fermentation done in pitchers and the water kefir tasted perfectly delicious.

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Juices or fruits were added to give flavors during second fermentation.

My goal was to keep my kefir grains clean, so I did not add anything other than sugar and water in my first brew.

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So far, I tried dried blueberries, dried cranberries, dried golden raisins, mango puree, guava juice, coconut and passion juice, Chinese sour plums and frozen cherries in my second brew.

My favorite was mango puree and guava juice because the flavors were stronger, while the dried fruit options seemed to have subtler flavors.

The Chinese sour plum was interesting since it made the brew sweet, salty and tart — a little foreign in the beverage, but also an element of surprise.

With my slow reproduction, I was able to give out kefirs grains to two friends so far.

I hope that as temperature warms up and with the addition of refined sugar, I could yield more grains to share with my friends.

The best part about kefir grains was that it could be consumed directly, and I would not have to run into over-producing problem as the kombucha mother.

The grains could also be stored in the refrigerator with some sugar water if a brewing break was needed.

I also loved the fact that the whole brewing process was not an exact science, and there were many trial and errors, adjustments and experimentation to brew for individual liking.

It had been fun journey!

Tang Yuan

In Food, Home Creation on February 19, 2014 at 11:19

Doof In

We made Tang Yuan last week on Valentine’s Day.

Apparently, this year was a special year that the Chinese Valentine’s Day and the Feb 14th Valentine’s Day happened to be the same physical day.

It was customary to make Tang Yuan during the Chinese Valentine’s Day, and so we did.

They were super easy to make – literally just flour and water for the wrapping and fillings of choice.

However, glutinous rice flour was a must-have otherwise texture would be completely compromised.
 
 
INGREDIENTS (makes about 25 dumplings)

1 cup glutinous rice flour

2/3 cup warm water

black sesame filling*
 
 
OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS

fresh ginger

brown sugar
 
 
DIRECTIONS

Mix flour and warm water together.

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Goal is to get a moist dough.

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Dependent on humidity and ingredient, water amount may need to be adjusted.

Once the moist dough is formed, smack the dough repeatedly into the bottom of the bowl or pan for about a minute^

Divide up the black sesame paste into small cubes.

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Divide dough into smaller rounds, about 3/4 inch diameter.

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Add black sesame filling onto the center of the small dough.

Wrap the dough to cover the filling and roll them into balls.

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Bring water to boil.

Add Tang Yuan into the pot; once boiled, add a cup of cold water.

Repeat this one more time (boil and add cold water).

The Tang Yuan are ready after being boiled 3 times.

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On the side, we cooked brown sugar water with fresh sliced ginger as the optional sweet soup.

Serve Tang Yuan in soup or water and enjoy!
 
 
*I happened to have the block of black sesame paste.

Often times, there were frozen black sesame filling available in Chinese stores already in small round ball shapes.

My friend also found a toothpaste-like tube of black sesame paste at the Chinese store.

Ground peanuts and sugar also made a delicious filling if black sesame was not available nor preferred.

^This action helps to increase the chewiness of the resulting dumpling.

Shanghainese Fried Rice Cakes

In Food, Home Creation on February 10, 2014 at 11:23

Doof In

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My Shanghainese grandma made fried rice cakes often when she was still around.

It was one of my favorite Shanghainese dishes.

I was fortunate to learn the cooking know-how on this before she passed.

Contrary to Cantonese style rice cakes which were staples around Chinese New Year, Shanghainese rice cakes were to be eaten all year round.

In my grandma’s recipe, there were only 4 simple ingredients – clean and delicious.

Personally, nothing beat making this dish at home — particularly, we put less oil and large amount of vegetables in it.

When we eat out, the preparation was often only with sprinkles of vegetables and relatively greasy.

It would require some trail and error in the beginning to attempt this dish, specially in learning the strength of the cooktop; nonetheless, the reward is priceless!
INGREDIENTS

for 4 big servings

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3 pieces of chicken thighs, shredded (pork can also be used)

2 long napa cabbage (the short fatter one can be the substitute as well, but the long ones are sweeter), sliced across leaves, half an inch wide

1 bag rice cake (I prefer the sliced kind)

1 finger segment worth of ginger, julienned
MARINATE FOR CHICKEN

marinate chicken for at least 15 minutes before cooking

1 tsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp of sesame oil

1/2 tbsp. soy sauce

1/2 tsp wine
OTHER CONDIMENT TO COLLECT BEFORE COOKING

2 tbsp. oil

1/2 tbsp. cooking wine

1/2 tsp. vegeta or chicken powder

1 tsp. of light soy sauce
DIRECTIONS

Add 1 tbsp. of oil in a big wok

Once smoky, add chicken and quickly stir-fry until the outside is cooked but the inside is still raw

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Remove chicken from wok, and heat the remaining 1 tbsp. oil in a the wok

Once smoky, reduce heat to medium and add ginger

Cook ginger until just turn brown, increase to high heat

Immediately add napa cabbage and stir-fry

Then add wine and vegeta (or chicken powder) and stir-fry until the cabbage is half-cooked

Spread out the cabbage and spread out the sliced rice cake on top of the vegetables

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Cover for 3 minutes and spread the chicken including juice on top of the rice cake

Cover again and wait for 5 minutes*.

Remove lid and use a chopstick to poke through rice cake to check for doneness.  It should be easy to poke through.

Add 1 tsp. of soy sauce on top evenly and start stir-frying.

Once rice cakes, vegetables and meats are mixed well, it is ready!

*With my cooktop, it only takes 5 minutes.  If the cooktop is weaker, it will take a lot longer.  Key is to open the lid and poke the rice cake to check for doneness– but do so quickly as to save as much steam as possible for cooking in the system.

*If it starts smelling burnt, likely that napa cabbage at the bottom of the wok is burnt.  Lift as much vegetables and rice cakes as possible with the spatula from the bottom of the wok to confirm, and add a little water (1/2 tbsp. to 1 tbsp.) while lifting the food.

Sous-vide Experience

In Food, Home Creation on January 27, 2014 at 16:17

Doof Home

My first ever live sous-vide experience!

This home food experience took place at my friend’s house.

I had sous-vide food at restaurants before but never got to see how they were made.

Steaks being sous-vide in water bath

Steaks being sous-vide in water bath

Sous-vide referred to the process of cooking food inside vacuum sealed bags in a hot water bath.

I was observing the making of some thick cut steaks, about 3 inches tall.

The temperature of the water bath was tightly regulated with the gadget (the black one with the temperature display), while the steaks submerged and bobbed in the water.

That particular day, the steaks were placed in the water bath for 3 hours at 129F.

The advantages of cooking sous-vide was to retain the juice and aromatics of the food, which would otherwise be lost due to heat, evaporation or leakage into the water/broth that the food was cooked in.

There was also textural advantage in preparing food this way.

In general, food items were being cooked at a lower than normal temperature; coupled with the even cooking made possible by water bath, food were cooked thoroughly to its doneness at a much lower temperature.

This allowed the meat to be cooked tender without getting tough, and vegetables to be cooked and stayed crisp.

There were so much science involved to deliver the perfect sous-vide for flavor and texture, and to deliver food that was safe enough for consumption.

The danger of low heat cooking was that bacteria and viruses that could cause food borne illness did not get destroyed properly.

Consequently, sous-vide cooking was similar to pasteurization where combination of temperature and duration of heat exposure were taken into account to ensure the food was safe to eat.

fresh out of the sous-vide pouch

fresh out of the sous-vide pouch

Once the steaks were removed from the pouches, it was time to grill.

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With low temperature cooking, it was impossible to get browning that we were accustomed to from grilling, searing on a pan or even the crisp and dry outer layer from roasting or baking.

As a result, in meat application, grilling at high heat was desirable to obtain the brown flavors.

We were grilling the meat at the highest heat possible.

The surface of the steaks were dried off, grill marks were made and the process sealed in the flavors and juice of the steaks further.

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The resulting meat looked gorgeous.

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It was exceptionally flavorful and juicy.

However, the texture was not as tender as we expected.

We theorized that it might be the steaks since they were not very fatty to start with.

Nonetheless, the experience was wonderful, eye-opening and priceless!

Tofu, Delicious French and Bird’s Nest

In Asia, Eating Out, Food, Home Creation, Travel Food on November 14, 2013 at 15:23

Doof Out

Breakfast at this really old tofu place in the produce market.

It was so lovely to see freshly made tofu, as compared to the ones in a plastic box with a plastic seal.

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I went to the store for “tofu fa” — a smooth soft tofu with syrup or brown sugar.

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The tofu was smooth, dense and beany, which I adored.

The crunchiness of the brown sugar gave sweetness and additional texture to the dessert.

Healthy, simple and delicious.

The shop also sold tiny beef bun with chewy dough and well-flavored onions and beef inside.

Then, my friend treated me to awesome French food at Lot 10 (thanks JL!).

It was DE-licious!

I started eating and chatting, and had forgotten about pictures!

We had a nice, fresh, crisp green salad to start; followed by a mushroom soup that was fantastic!

Strong, intense mushroom flavor with very light mouthfeel.

Then, we had chicken with different kinds of mushrooms over rice, finished with foie gras foam.

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The chicken skin was crisp and the chicken was very tasty.

It had wonderful rich flavors from the foie gras and mushrooms without being heavy.

It was a treat!

Lastly, I had a tasty pear tart.

Buttery crust with sweet slices of pear, sweetness was perfect!

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It was a wonderful break to have French food among my many Chinese meals!

Doof Home

Lastly, the labor of love from my mom — bird’s nest soup.

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The bowl of soup looked plain enough; but it took many hours of work to pick many tiny bird’s hair and other impurities out of the bird’s nest to make this clear sweet soup.

Bird’s nest were the saliva of a particular kind of cave-dwelling birds, call swiftlets.

The act to secure the bird’s nests was also laborous and dangerous, as the nests were mostly on vertical walls of the caves.

Bird’s nests were actually tasteless and flavorless, but the crunchy texture was amazing.

Bird’ nests were one of the many Chinese delicacies; and they were said to be very nutritious.

Chocoholic’s Chocolate Cherry Muffin – Gluten Free and Vegan

In Food, Home Creation on October 23, 2013 at 14:06

Doof Home

Experiment with a chocoholic muffin recipe and I am excited with this creation!

WARNING: the muffins contain super strong dark chocolate flavor.

A tiny little muffin goes a long way to satisfy chocolate cravings!

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I elected to use Trader Joe’s sipping chocolate powder mix for its intense chocolate flavor.

Aside from cocoa powder, the powder mix also contains cocoa butter and chocolate liquor.

The downside is that it also contains cane sugar.

To make the muffin truly vegan, be sure to use chocolate chunks without dairy.

Alternatively, chocolate bars without dairy can be purchased and chopped into chunks for this application.

I feel really good eating these treats since I am basically consuming almonds, with chocolate, cherries and little bit of sugar.

 

Ingredients

2 cup almond flour

4 tbsp. milled flax-seed

1 cup of dried cherries, chopped if whole

1 cup of chocolate chunks

3 tbsp. of Trader Joe’s sipping chocolate powder mix

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tbsp. agave

1 tsp. red wine vinegar*

12 tbsp. of water

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

*white vinegar, apple cider vinegar will be fine

 

Directions

Preheat oven at 325F.

Mixed all the dry ingredients together thoroughly in a medium bowl.

Mix the wet ingredients in a larger bowl.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Line the muffin tray with paper liners and scoop batter individually to the cup.^

Bake for 20 mins.

Take the muffin tray out of the oven and cool on wire rack for at least half an hour before consumption.

Makes about 12 small muffins.

^ the batter does not rise much from baking, feel free to top the batter to the brim of the paper liners.