Monday, November 28, 2005

Cranberry Sauce Recipe

I know, there are millions of cranberry sauce recipes out there. This is my family's - we've tweaked it from the recipe on an old Martha Stewart video we checked out at the public library ages ago. This video is definitely old school - one of the recipes is for a turkey wrapped in puff pastry, and another recipe calls for a gallon of clarified butter (I exaggerate only slightly.) The original recipe called for whole fruit diced into 1/4" cubes - but this made the sauce a little bitter.

Kim Family Cranberry Sauce
serves 10 to 12

2 ½ cups sugar

½ cups water

Zest and juice of one orange and one lime

1 cup raisins (I like golden. This is optional.)

2 3-inch cinnamon sticks

1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out. (This is definitely not optional. Throw the whole thing in.)

3 12-ounce bags of fresh cranberries

Put the sugar and water in a pan and caramelize until golden brown. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for 10 minutes. Let cool, and refrigerate until ready to use.

My favorite way to eat this....

Monday, November 21, 2005

Today in the mail...

...I got the most awesome package! From Jenn of I Got Two Shoes. This was part of Blogging by Mail 3 hosted over at my little kitchen. Check it out - there are lots of interesting packages flying around all over the world.

As for mine...I was very excited when I saw the mailing label. My parcel came all the way from South Korea! And look at all the fun stuff inside:

Mmm...I'll never be tired of instant noodles. This cup is very considerate in letting me know in very large letters that I am only consuming 130 kcal. I can make rice balls. There's even a packet of "health rice" to make them with - and a packet of rice flavoring. Which flavor? Cheese!

Yum...chocolate-covered sunflower seeds, chocolate-dipped cracker sticks, and several flavors of chocolate. I love when korean food packages have english writing on them. Here's what the packages say:
"Jeju Orange Chocolate is made with world-level prodution technollogy and the most up-to-date German and Italian machines using 100% natrual jeju tangerine grown in the blessed island, jeju. jeju chocolate contains all the ingredients of natural tangential, including Vitamin-C & Fiber, which gives it a taste unique from others chocolate and is also healthy." Nice. Healthy chocolate.
"Green tea chocolate has the freshness of the first flush leaf with sweet. It is a neo-concept chocolate that spreads the freshness with not too sweet in your mouth."
"Jeju Cactus Chocolate is made with cactus powder through vacuum lyophilization of Jeju Cactus. It adds nutritive substance to deep and tender chocolate taste."
Even though this chocolate is healthy, Jenn has included a box of "smart herb tea" (I hope it helps me through my qualifying exams) and some T-smile gum so that I don't get cavities. :)

Thank you so much Jenn for your very generous package! My parents will be in Korea this year for Christmas, and my brother and I won't be able to go with them. We'll definitely make some rice balls and eat some health chocolate so we can feel like we're with them this year...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

My kitchen...

As part of this round of Blogging by Mail, we've been asked to include a photograph of our kitchen. I don't have any prints, so I thought I'd post them up here...

Do you see that dead basil plant on the corner of the table? Shame on me. I'm a bad plant mommy. See our spice cabinet? When I first opened it I knew that I would love living here...
And just for kicks, here's a peek inside our fridge...

Well, only the top shelf, which is my shelf. As you can see, I heart Trader Joe's.

We may need a bigger freezer...

Friday, November 11, 2005

Not even a chocolate thing from Arizmendi...

...can lift me out of this gray cloud today. You know you're in trouble when a chocolate-filled brioche can't cheer you up. Yowza.

In other non-food news, how in the world has this existed for a whole week without me knowing???

Nickel Creek covering Britney Spears' "Toxic"

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Another food rut...

Well, I guess not so much of a rut as a black hole? School/work has been crazy and will continue to be crazy until the middle of November, so that means late late nights. And weekends. Which means I have no energy whatsoever to get home and cook something. Hell, last night it took all the energy I had to stick a bag of popcorn in the microwave. Yes, kettle corn was my dinner last night.
If I don't get a PhD, I fully blame Netflix. Why can't I attack my research with the same focus that somehow appears when a new DVD appears in the mail? TV shows on DVD will be the death of me. First I tackled all of Sex and the City. Then it was West Wing. I just finished Arrested Development, Six Feet Under, and Sports Night. Now it's the entire first season of Scrubs. Gah. Usually I grumble when companies are mean and only put three or four episodes on one disc. But the first disc I got for Scrubs had eight episodes on it. Eight! It's a wonder I was able to restrain myself from watching all eight in one sitting. Because I would.
Ooh, I did have a yummy meal last Friday - a high school friend was in town so a whole bunch of us ate dinner at Home. I may have to attempt to recreate their banana bread pudding and pumpkin cheesecake at home.
Whew. Back to the microtome. Gotta slice up some slides before I take my rats to their MRI.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Thanksgiving help!

In my first attempt to be more grown-up, I am cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my family this year. I'm not just driving over to Lafayette the night before to help out, I'm planning the menu and cooking everything and serving it in my apartment in San Francisco. Yowza. I'm only slightly nervous. My mom sounded bewildered when I first brought up the idea.

Me: Mom, are you doing anything for Thanksgiving this year?
Mom: I don't know...why?
Me: I'm thinking of cooking this year at my house.
Mom: Why would you do that?? No! Just come home! Don't be crazy!!
Me: Mom! You wouldn't have to do anything! I thought it would be nice if you all came over and had a relaxing Thanksgiving this year!

So I just gave up at that point, since my mom is pretty stubborn, and is convinced that by cooking Thanksgiving dinner I won't have time to "study." I think her idea of grad school is slightly different from mine.

The next day, I get a call.

Mom: You know Jungjoo, I was thinking about it some more, and I think it's a very nice idea to have Thanksgiving dinner at your house.
Me: See? It wasn't a crazy idea!
Mom: And don't try to do everything yourself. I can make something and bring it. Like pumpkin soup. Or the turkey! I'll bring the turkey!
Me: Mom!!

So now I'm cooking dinner. And I don't know what to do! I had all these ideas swirling in my head, like warm frisee salad with poached eggs and pancetta, or swiss chard gratin, or gorgonzola potato tart. And maybe I'll brine the turkey. The ideas started getting out of hand, and in about two minutes I had planned a 10-dish offering, where most everything involved bacon fat, cheese, heavy cream, or copious amounts of butter. Heart attack central. So I'm asking for ideas - what Thanksgiving dishes do y'all make that don't involve a truckload of saturated fat? Specifcally, vegetable offerings. And where would you buy a good turkey in San Francisco? Keep in mind, my budget doesn't allow me to get one of those fresh $130 heritage turkeys, but I'm willing to splurge on something that wasn't frozen a year ago. And how do you brine with little fridge space? I heard somewhere about brining in a cooler, but I'm afraid I'll wake up thanksgiving morning with rotten turkey and fodder for a year's worth of brotherly insults.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

My brother...

...never ceases to amaze me. While I may have been the straight-A overachiever during high school, he has grown up to be the creative genius. I am in awe of his self-taught cooking and guitar-playing skills. And tonight he has made me burst with pride. He just called with his MCAT score - 36. Thirty-six!! I know, I know, it's totally obnoxious of me to brag about my baby brother, but dammit, I'm proud! I'm so excited for him. I know he'll be an amazing doctor. Or whatever he decides he wants to do. For all the insults he may throw my way, he is one of the sweetest and most caring little brothers anybody could ask for.
Congratulations Hyunjoon! I'll be sure to drink a Guinness in your honor when I'm done with this crazy 200-mile relay this weekend!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Pearl, part two...

On Sunday I trekked out to Berkeley to hear the amazing Takacs Quartet, and there was no way I was driving back to the city without eating some spicy smoky fries. Yes, I went back to Pearl. Yes, I loved it as much as I did the first time.

We started with the fall salad, which was a tangy jumble of frisee topped with raspberries, figs, and pistachio pecorino. Then we dug into the crispy squid with thai slaw, which if you go to Pearl and you don't order, you have wasted a trip. On my last trip I loved the bruschetta and this time they offered a version with figs. Although I love figs, I passed on this so we could try the moroccan fish cakes - and we were not at all disappointed. They looked like falafel balls - and they had the same crunchy outsides, but full of moist fish and zucchini inside, served on top of a yummy yogurt sauce with housemade harissa. And then there were the fries. Mmmmm...

We washed it all down with a huge bottle of belgian farmhouse ale. I was pretty full. But then we looked at the dessert menu, and had to order the hot fudge sundae. Yergh. Chocolate-hazelnut, triple espresso, and vanilla bean gelato. Valrhona and El Rey chocolate sauces. Banana. Whipped cream. Did we have to restrain ourselves from licking the inside of the martini glass it was served in? Yes.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Goood Frikin' Chicken

I kid you not, that's the name of the restaurant. Just look at this picture:

Mmmm...a whole chicken, salad, crispy pita, and a side (we chose the basmati pilaf, you can also get hummus, baked beans, potatoes, or mac and cheese) fed one 6' 3" boy who is a bottomless pit and one ravenous girl for only $16. It doesn't get much better than that.

Goood Frikin' Chicken
29th St @ Mission
San Francisco

Monday, September 19, 2005

Happy belated birthday... my dear friend Roger, who on Saturday turned very old. ;) He is the man who first took me to the restaurant that started my love affair with ethiopean food, introduced me to the joys of eating a chicken cutlet grinder (plain for me, with blue cheese dressing for him) at 11pm, and eventually (although he doesn't know it) led me to appreciate stinky cheese. I hope you had a wonderful birthday weekend!

Oh, and his blog has mysteriously morphed into a food blog. :)

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Snack foods that will be the death of me #1

Gah. I think I just ate 20 of these without thinking. Then I made the mistake of peeking at the nutrition label. I've just consumed enough saturated fat to take ten years off my life. :(

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Ugh, food mistakes...

Whenever I'm at the Metreon and I'm eating at the food court, I usually end up at the Long Life Noodle place. I have no idea why I keep doing that to myself. Every single time I've been very unhappy. Buddha's Bliss? Blech. Yin-Yang Delight? Yuck. Enchanted Heat? Ew. And last night, Curry Imperial. Ha. Curry sauce my a$$. It was a bowl of yellow noodles in a yellow sauce that I had to douse with soy sauce to get it to taste like anything. God, I'm never going to that place again.

I can say this because I've been there more than twice. I know you really should give a place a couple of tries before you write it off, but sometimes you have to follow your gut (literally and figuratively.) I should have written off Red Lobster after the very first time I went. That's right, I'll be the first to admit it - I've been to Red Lobster. Twice. In my defense, my boyfriend at the time claimed it was very good, and that it was the "nice" restaurant to go to in his hometown.* It sucked. Yet, somehow, we forgot this and went again. Yup. Shame on us.

*He's no longer my boyfriend. Coincidence? Hmmm.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Pizza My Heart

When I've had a little more to drink than I can handle (which means two beers instead of one, yeesh) I get a hankering for a nice slice of pizza. Post-drinking pizza is not to be confused with meal pizza. The two do have some overlap but most pizzas definitely belong in one category and not both.

Pizza Orgasmica is my post-drinking pizza of choice. But the price is a little steep, and sometimes you have to wait in line a long time. I don't know about you, but after my two beers, I get a little impatient. Especially if there's pizza involved. So the other night Rich and I decided to try out Pizza My Heart.

You may have noticed people walking around with t-shirts that say "Pizza My Heart" on them. Apparently you get them for free if you order a whole pizza. Don't. Don't even be seduced by the $5 deal where you get a slice and a t-shirt. The pizza is horrible. Look at this picture:

Yes, there's a lot of stuff on there and it looks like it has the potential to taste good, but somehow they managed to concoct the most tasteless slice of cardboard imaginable. Look at the crust. Anemic! Plus it needs a tan. And it didn't taste like anything. See that onion? Didn't taste like anything. The cheese? I'm not even sure they put cheese on there - there wasn't even a hint of saltiness. Sheesh. Blech blech blech.

Here is Rich making a sad face because his pizza is floppy. Yup, nothing worse than flaccid pizza - in taste and texture. So I'm warning you - don't even think about going here. Even if you're drunk and desperate. Better to go home and eat a frozen pizza. Seriously!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Amazing snack foods #2

Grape and blue cheese truffles:

Take seedless grapes, cover in a blue cheese/cream cheese/white wine concoction, then roll in ground pistachios.

Labor-intensive, but oh-so-yummy.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Amazing snack foods #1

Oaty. Wheat-free. Cute. So delicious. Made by Barbara's Bakery, purveyors of my precious Puffins.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


A very mean person not worthy of any thought just came to my office to yell at me and made me cry. It wasn't worth crying over - this guy is very unreasonable and a little delusional, but I'm pretty stressed out about work so I probably would have cried at the drop of a hat today. What makes me mad is that he did this in front of all of my labmates. And I started doubting myself - did I do something wrong? Why would he come over here to attack me? Luckily my labmates were able to comfort me - I know I didn't do anything wrong, this guy just has a lot of problems.
What was nice is that Dan, the newest member of our lab, came back a little while later with one of my favorite cookies. It was really sweet, and will definitely make my day a little easier to get through. I have tons of work to pile through, then I have to go home and somehow do laundry and clean up and pack, because tomorrow I'm off to....New York!

I just have to say, that thanks to all you food bloggers out there, I don't have to ask the question "hmmm, where to eat?" Unfortunately, there are about 15 places I want to visit, but only about 6-7 meal slots free. Yergh.

Monday, August 22, 2005


In celebration of my little brother taking the MCAT we went to Pearl. Wow. Amazing food. My brother's description sums up my feelings, so here I will give you some pictures.

Spicy Smoky Fries with Aioli ($6)

Two-of-each oyster plate ($27) - I was well into my glass of wine so I've forgotten one of the selections. We had Eld Inlet, Hama Hama, Fanny Bay, Hog Island, Kumamoto, and one variety that looked like a clam.

Tartare Trio ($10?)

Bruschetta ($10) - that's grilled peach, goat cheese, carmelized red onions, and hazelnuts. My favorite dish of the evening.

We also had crispy local squid with thai slaw ($10) and crabcakes ($11) - the squid was excellent but I'd pass on the crabcakes and order more oysters...or try one of the salads if you are experiencing seafood overload. All the salads that passed by our table looked great.

5634 College Ave.
Oakland, CA 94618

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Why I'll gladly pay $1.50 for one of these...

Disclaimer: sorry if the formatting is off. I'm still getting used to my lovely new Mac Mini...

You have no idea how much I'm kicking myself for not eating any macarons when I went to Bordeaux. To be honest, they looked like they would be dry, bland, and not at all interesting. Argh. I tried one a few months ago and fell in love - how could I have callously rejected these little bits of cookie heaven? Gah.

Okay, enough with beating myself up. The only thing that prevents me from going out and buying one every day is the $1.50 price tag. Yeesh. Seems like a lot for a cookie that is about an inch and a half in diameter. As I flipped through my Bouchon cookbook (which gets a whole post on how much I love it, but I'll spare you) last week, I found a recipe for vanilla macarons. Yeah! On Saturday I brought various ingredients and supplies to my parents' home in Lafayette (to take advantage of the KitchenAid stand mixer) and set to work.

First off, acquiring the ingredients put a dent in my wallet. The cookie part calls for 5 cups of almond flour and seeds from 2 vanilla beans. Since I only had 3 cups of almond flour and I was pressed for time, I caved and went to the local (expensive) grocery store to buy blanched almonds and vanilla beans. I also needed a dozen eggs and a pound of butter, since my parents were low. Oh, and then I needed to buy pastry bag tips.

I mixed together the 5 cups of almond flour and 5.75 cups of powdered sugar and was rather alarmed by the amount of dry ingredients:

Hrm. Even more alarming - this whole bowl of dry stuff needed to somehow fit into this much smaller bowl of 8 whipped egg whites:

Okay, okay, the scale is off, but lets just say that as a scientist, I was pretty sure that if it happened I would have defied many basic laws of physics.

I added the dry ingredients little by little and to my utter amazement, it all fit! Look!
Pretty spiffy, no? My arms aching, I started the difficult task of piping the very stiff and sticky batter into circles of the exact same size. This was frustrating. Plus, I had a star tip instead of a plain tip so they didn't come out as round circles. Thomas Keller says to draw out the circles before you start. I didn't do this, so I was pretty cranky by the time I drew out all the cicles on the parchment paper. This took a while. Then, after piping out all the batter, you have to let the circles dry at room temp so they form a nice skin. I did this for about an hour, and they definitely felt dry, but I can't figure out if this was too much time or too little time, because some of the baked circles had a puffy skin that was crunchy but also was very thin and fell off. Here are the cookies, taking over the family room table:

If you're ever crazy enough to bake these yourself at home, remember to put lots of space between your traced circles. The batter will spread a little, and if it touches other circles while baking it's a b*tch to separate. The cookies are pretty sticky in the middle. Plus, make sure you have lots of cookie sheets. I didn't have enough, and I used one of those cushionair sheets, which meant most of that batch was ruined because the bottoms didn't bake enough and we couldn't peel them off the parchment without totally mauling them. My mom happily ate those with a little buttercream.

Speaking of buttercream, I made that too. Damn, butter and sugar are good together. Except my mom doesn't have any granulated sugar at home, just some organic less-refined stuff from Trader Joe's I had bought when we made creme brulee. We stupidly attempted to make the sugar syrup with this and it was a mess. I ended up dumping a couple tablespoons of powdered sugar into the mix and I think it came out okay. I had to stop my mom from eating spoonfuls of it.

At this point, my brother had come home from taking the MCAT and we went out to dinner, which you can read about here. I'll post pictures later, but my brother's description pretty much sums up my feelings as well.

Well fed and slightly tipsy, my brother and I tackled the macaron assembly, where we had to restrain ourselves from eating each one after we assembled. We managed to restrain ourselves and ended up with about 25:

So basically, considering all the money and time that went into the process, I no longer have any qualms forking over the six quarters for this precious treat. Not that the homemade ones weren't delicious - they were amazing and by successfully making them I consider myself a pastry goddess (ha!) - but those five hours would be better spent elsewhere.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Now I have no excuse...

As of 7:42 this morning, my new apple mac mini is on a FedEx vehicle for delivery. I already have my new flat panel monitor, speakers, and USB hub, and tomorrow I get my keyboard. This means....more blogging! Okay, maybe not more, but at least now I can put more pictures up. I guess this means I have to take more pictures. And I should learn how to use my digital camera. Yergh.

Monday, August 15, 2005

What is General Tso's Chicken???

Having lived on the east coast for four years, I think I am allowed to be one of those annoying people who talk about how wonderful California is all the time (there are some who do this but have never set foot outside the state. These people are just obnoxious.) I won't go in depth, because that's about a novel's worth of stuff to say, but occasionally, I do get twinges of missing things you can only get on the east coast. Like pretty fall colors. Right now it is the middle of August and I walked to school in the freezing fog/rain. Eww. The other thing is General Tso's chicken.

Now, I don't know exactly who General Tso was or what his chicken dish is supposed to taste like, but I can tell you this - every time I've had it on the east coast it is damn frickin' good. Deep fried chicken cubes and broccoli, smothered in this wonderfully spicy but also sweet sauce. I've ordered it in fancy restaurants, from roach coaches, at 3am from the local takeout place, and it has never disappointed me.

Until I tried to find it in California. I've tried all sorts of imitations - some not spicy enough, most didn't have broccoli, and none of them had the right sauce. What is going on here??

Last night my family went to our favorite chinese restaurant in SF - Gourmet Carousel. We've been coming here since I was seven. We love it. It's good (if you know what to order) and cheap and hits the spot. I was in lab so I met them a little late - they had already ordered. No big deal, we usually get the same thing each time so I wasn't worried. Until my mom said "oh, and your brother wanted to try the general tso's chicken so we got that too." Whaaaa?? Usually my brother doesn't commit such huge errors in judgment, particularly when it comes to food. He must really be missing the east coast right now (he's an undergrad at Amherst.) "Idiot!" I said to him. "You know you can't order that anywhere but the east coast!"

And I was right. Even our beloved Gourmet Carousel wasn't up to the challenge. The texture of the chicken was okay but there was no broccoli. And even though there was a generous amount of dried chilies in the sauce, absolutely no heat whatsoever. A weird citrusy sweetness. Blech.

Does anybody know why we can't get east coast-style General Tso's chicken here? What's the deal?

I know I just dissed this dish, but that shouldn't deter you from eating at Gourmet Carousel. What to get:
*peking duck - wonderfully crispy skin and oily meat, comes with 12 steamed buns (not pancakes) and green onions for what my family calls "duckburgers." Only 16.95 (whole duck) and you don't have to preorder or anything.
*clams with black bean sauce, pan fried flounder, mixed seafood in a nest, baked crab with ginger and scallions
*beef chow fun, chinese tender greens beef, long bean beef
*gourmet chicken, crispy fried chicken, salt baked chicken
*mandarin spareribs, gourmet combination clay pot
*sauteed dry string bean, pea sprouts in garlic sauce

Do not get:
mongolian beef, mu shu anything, batter-fried dishes (although I think they may have changed their batter, the old stuff was horrible.)

Each meal comes with a free bowl of their house wintermelon soup. Yummy stuff!

Gourmet Carousel
1559 Franklin St (corner of Pine)
San Francisco, CA

Thursday, August 11, 2005

still buzzin'....

...from the rockin' show I saw last night. Arrested Development was at Slim's. Now, I remember a few of their songs from, hm, when was it, middle school? And I like them, but I didn't truly appreciate their musical talent until I saw them on a super cheesy (yet awesome) show called Hit Me Baby One More Time. In this show, groups and performers from way back when (think Wang Chung, Vanilla Ice, Flock of Seagulls, Tiffany!) perform one of their hits and a cover of a current hit, and then the audience votes on who performed the best and that group gets to donate some money to their favorite charity. Well, Arrested Development won. They can really belt it, plus they have great performance energy. So I was super psyched when I found out they were touring and would be in SF.

The location of the venue gave me the perfect excuse to try out a restaurant I've heard good things about but have never gotten around to - India Garden. Funny side story: I heard about this place because my first roommate in SF went on a date here, where at the end of the night they shared the most (in her words) flaccid good-night kiss ever, but he apparently didn't think so because as he pulled away he said "mmm, deadly" - she of course ran immediately upstairs to share this information with me, we had a good bout of sidesplitting laughter, and have referred to him as "deadly" ever since, so much so that I can't remember his real name.

Okay, enough of the side stories. This place is good. We had a really hard time narrowing down our choices. I definitely wanted to try the vegetable korma, but then that left us with only one other entree spot. We toyed with the idea of ordering three entrees for two people but we probably would have hated ourselves in the middle of the show when we were instructed to jump up and down. We debated between the lamb coconut curry and something called "velvet chicken" - the lamb won. We also ordered vegetable samosas, justifying this by telling ourselves we could since we didn't order the third entree. Yow.

You know something is made right when it's deep-fried but leaves you feeling hungry for the rest of the meal. I've always wondered why people order deep-fried appetizers - so many times they are greasy and just make you feel all clogged up for the rest of the meal. Done right though - ahhh, yummy. These samosas were perfect - nice and crispy on the outside, not at all greasy-feeling, with the perfect amount of spice in the filling so that you didn't feel the need to douse it with cilantro chutney to give it flavor. After gobbling mine up I bounced around in anticipation for the rest of the meal.

Our dishes, along with rice and nan, came out a little later. Already things looked promising - the texture of the korma looked fantastic, and neither dish had those awful little pools of oil you sometimes see in other restaurants. The vegetable korma was amazing - nice big chunks of carrot, summer squash, cauliflower, peas, and bell pepper, with crunchy nuts. The lamb curry was also good - the texture of the lamb was much better than some of the other dry, tough chunks I've eaten in the past. It could have used a little more coconut and a little less salt, but I think saltiness in lamb dishes must be inherent - I have not yet had one single lamb korma, curry, or vindaloo that hasn't been very salty. Hm. I wonder why that is.

We were stuffed, and there was even some leftover to take home. I had the beginnings of food coma which did not bode well for the rest of the evening but eventually, the energy of the show pulled me through and I could dance the night away.

Go here!
India Garden
1261 Folsom St (btw 8th and 9th)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

not food-related

Does anybody have an opinion on the apple mini mac? I'm looking for an inexpensive desktop computer to keep at home (my laptop is permanently at work) and I really don't need bells and whistles. But I've been a PC person my whole life and have always had some sort of problem with all the PCs I've owned and feel that maybe by getting a mac I won't deal with that sort of thing, like viruses and crashing and reformatting. Is this wishful thinking on my part?


I went to Lafayette last night to say hi to my grandma who just flew in from Korea. Waiting for me (other than an amazing dinner, of course) was my new baby - the Bouchon cookbook! I spent a good hour oohing and aahing over the yummy-sounding recipes and pretty pictures. Unfortunately it was too big for me to lug around in my backpack as I BART and bike all over the bay area, so I have to wait until Friday to install it permanently under my pillow and have dreams filled with macarons and onion soup and salmon rillettes. In the meantime, I have just ordered an ice cream maker off of amazon (one day sale made it 9.99 which is 83% off!) and am anxiously awaiting the first time I make ice cream. The Bouchon book has an apple and calvados recipe based on creme fraiche. I can barely contain myself...

Monday, August 01, 2005

things i love right now...

*scrambled eggs made with creme fraiche

*my nalgene "easy sipper" - did you know you can spike a mild fever from being dehydrated? i've been trying to drink out of my wide-mouth nalgene but i'm so darn clumsy i spill water all over myself. this thing is a marvel of engineering.

*a large bottle of asahi, shared with your little brother over a dinner of sushi and soba

*talking about everything and nothing while drinking coffee and people/dog-watching, on a sunday morning

Saturday, July 30, 2005

the cheeseboard...

On Thursday I saw Julie (bestest friend from high school) and her husband. Yes, I have married friends. This is what happens when your friends move to *Minnesota* but I digress. As one of her wedding gifts I had given her the Cheeseboard Collective cookbook and she really wanted to try the pizza.

The last time I had cheeseboard pizza was in high school. I was introduced to it by a boyfriend who had told me I was mediocre and later broke my heart so I've pretty much harbored negative associations with it, as well as certain Counting Crows songs and all things Harvard.

When I started working at UCSF, people kept raving about the pizza and baked goods at Arizmendi, a few blocks down on 9th ave. So I went one day and had the most amazing pizza - I don't even remember what was on it, but if you want an idea of what kind of stuff they have, go here. I also tried a banana chocolate chip scone that nearly made me cry, it was so moist and yummy. Turns out, the co-op members of the Cheeseboard trained the members of Arizmendi so many of the recipes and offerings are similar.

Much of my desire to bake stuff is thanks to Julie's influence. On your birthday she would make this amazing fudge that didn't make your teeth hurt. That's right, I have sensitive teeth. But I think some people make fudge that is so sickly sweet and almost has a weird dry consistency that it has the potential to make your teeth hurt. Not Julie's fudge. It's a work of art. She also made butterscotch brownies that I could probably eat five of in an one sitting. Anyways, the scones and muffins I have had at Arizmendi have brought me much joy over the past few years so I wanted to pass along the joy to her.

We showed up at 6pm on Thursday. That is apparently the best time to go, because by the time we sat down at a table, there was a line out the door. The pizza of the day was bell pepper and mushroom. Sounds completely normal, but it was amazing. I don't know if they do this with all their pizzas, but the toppings were sliced really thin, almost shaved, so that they completely blended into the cheese. Therefore, you weren't eating a piece of cheese pizza with stuff on top, you were eating a slice of coherent pizza, where everything just seemed to go with each other, like the bell pepper was specifically grown for this very pizza, and so on. Make sense? Probably not. Anyways, I guess all I'm trying to say is...go to the Cheeseboard! Even if you associate it with painful high school memories. It's worth it. Really.

Monday, July 25, 2005

a problem....

I live with two other people.
They are wonderful roommates and I love living with them, but the problem is our fridge and freezer. It's full. Everywhere. And I like to cook. A lot. Usually recipes that can't be scaled down to one serving.
Last night I made a curry, which although I was happy with it, I don't want to eat for lunch and dinner the next two days. Tonight I want to try a salmon dish which will give me leftovers. Tomorrow I have a tri-tip that is over 2 pounds so I will have lots of leftovers from that too.

Any suggestions from other people out there? What do you do when you have no freezer space for leftovers, but want to try out recipes you just can't scale down to one serving and you don't feel like eating okra curry five nights in a row??

It's not like I can just feed everybody all the time either. First of all, my roommates and I all have different schedules and also, I just can't afford to feed everybody. And I no longer have a big tall boyfriend to feed, so I find myself with more leftovers than usual. Is there a simple solution to this that I'm missing? And don't tell me to stop cooking, because that's just not possible :)

Friday, July 22, 2005

why did i not buy more of these?????

My Mamie Nova yogurts (melon, fig, and pistachio) are long gone, and today I decided to crack open the La Fermiere. My family has been raving about the honey flavor they bought, but I bought plain so that I could satisfy my craving for something tangy but add something if I needed a sweet fix. I just ate one with strawberry jam and homemade biscuits. Wow. I have to keep reminding myself that these guys are $2.50 each and that's why I can't afford to buy enough to eat one every day. I guess the Total with honey is not looking as expensive now...
I am also in love with petits suisse. Such the perfect size for an after-dinner snack. So yummy and creamy. So cute. Food is more fun to eat when it's cute. Unless it's too cute and you don't want to ruin it. Nothing more sad than biting into cookie monster's head and not enjoying its cupcakey goodness because, well, it's cookie monster.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

chez nous

Fillmore street is walking distance to where I live. Every time I've walked up there I've passed a place called Chez Nous that looks intriguing - full of people and a menu full of things I'd like to try. Last night I finally ventured in, for dessert. And I have to say I ate one of the top three creme brulees of my life. I've decided I can't decide on the best, because you really can't compare vanilla and rose petal and chocolate.
This one was full of vanilla bean flecks and even had raspberries under the sugar crust. It came with a cookie that reminded me of my childhood, although I can't exactly place my finger on why. But I'll definitely make an attempt to go back - I think it's a place my family would love. And lately I've been appreciating more how your companions can make your dining experience more enjoyable. Seriously! Try going out to restaurant with a picky or close-minded eater. It can really sour your evening...

Sunday, July 17, 2005


i tried to fiddle with my sidebar and now something has gone awry. when i'm back to my own computer i'll fix it. currently i am at melting in lafayette.

Sunday, July 10, 2005


Right now my kitchen is full of yummy smells. Butter and almond and all sorts of yummy goodness.

For the very first time, I went to the Made in France warehouse sale. It was a family event - my brother (who is amazing in the kitchen and is going to be a neurosurgeon, and is single) wanted to tag along and we picked up my mom from work who wanted to come and buy chorizo. And salmon rillettes.
We really had no idea what to expect. We were afraid we might be disappointed. We weren't. There were only two black clouds on our excursion - we couldn't find any amora (I'm so addicted to the stuff I've been eating from a jar with a 2003 expiration date) and the amount of money we spent. I am embarrased to say I spent as much money as my mom did, and her bill was for 3 people!
We stocked up on chocolate (cocoa for me to make truffles, 8 bars of 83% dark for my dad who doesn't like anything less than 70%), vinegar (three kinds) and yogurt up the wazoo. My dad and I love yogurt. So much that I was crazy enough to spend nearly $20 on it! But as I tasted my first $2 tub of melon yogurt, my anxiety melted away from the sheer yumminess. This morning's tub of fig yogurt had the same effect. I also bought some butter that I have renamed "crack butter" because it is so damn good I will pay the $9/lb price tag no matter what.

Inspired by my purchases, I did some baking today. I made the almond cake in Amanda Hesser's book Cooking for Mr. Latte. It's cooling now, and if it tastes half as good as the raw batter! I also made some digestive biscuits (the same recipe Sam of Becks and Posh used) to eat with my petits suisse. I had never tried either before, and I have definitely been missing out. I'm regretting buying only 2 packs of petits suisse (I had seen some other people buy entire crates) but I guess I can always go back...right? I'll just figure out how I can work in a monthly trip into my budget...

Thursday, July 07, 2005


Last week I had a nasty case of food poisoning. I'll spare you the gory details, but I hadn't felt so bad since the great food poisoning incident of '02, when my brother and I ended up in the emergency room of a korean hospital, hours before we were supposed to fly back to SF. Like most people, I don't particularly enjoy throwing up, but the worst thing is, I think I lost the ability to feel hungry.
This makes me very sad. It's awful, eating because you know that if you don't you'll remain weak and easily tired. I miss the ability to feel excited about going home and making dinner, or looking in my fridge and thinking "yum! I haven't had this in a long time!" It reminds me of the part in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, when Francie buys a huge dill pickle on the days when nothing tastes good to her anymore. I wish I had a similar cure.
I think my tastebuds are broken. Rich and I went to Burma Super Star on Clement a couple nights ago. We had passed by this place a couple weeks ago and it was full of people and the menu looked good. We vowed to come back and try it out. We ordered ginger salad, pumpkin pork stew, and beef kebat. The salad was good - I was expecting something spicy but was pleasantly surprised. The only heat came from the ginger and the salad's strength was in its texture - lots of crunchy nuts and seeds. I wouldn't order it if you want a flavor explosion, but if you want, nutty (there's a better word to describe it in korean, I wish english had a comparable one) with a rounder and more satisfying mouthfeel, this is the salad to go to.
I chose the pumpkin pork stew and was disappointed. It looked promising - nice big chunks of stewed squash and lean pieces of pork that easily fell apart in a green sauce. But it didn't taste like anything except salt! Maybe my tastebuds are broken. I thought I detected a hint of cardamom but it was all overpowered by a salty taste. I think it would have been much better if they upped the spices but reduced the salt.
The beef kebat had good flavor but the texture was...blech. It was described as flank steak but the meat was so mushy you had to wonder. I really liked the mint in the dish - but the chili wasn't strong enough. Sure, the dish looked red, but you didn't get that zing on your tastebuds. I think the oiliness detracted a lot - if a dish is going to be that oily, it better damn well have zing. And meat with a strong texture.
So I guess I would go again, but order different dishes. You sit very close to other people and you can see what they order. The catfish curry looked good. As did a stir-fry dish with shrimp, but I think it had mango in it, which I'm allergic to. :(
In the meantime, I hope I regain my hunger. My brother says ice cream sandwiches will do the trick. Hm....

Monday, June 27, 2005

Ramekins rocks!

When I am not madly trying to stain 20 slides with 3 different stains all at once I will tell you all about the wonderful time I had Saturday afternoon at Ramekins cooking school in Sonoma, learning how to be a master sushi chef. It was an amazing class so I just wanted to put it out there in the foodblogworld - if you want to take a cooking class or buy somebody a cooking class as a gift, go to Ramekins!!

Website here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Twinkies and cupcakes. Yum!

A long time ago I brought this "sushi" to a party. It was damn good. Yes, it is made out of twinkies. I love twinkies.

Last night I ate an amazing cupcake. A guy in my lab got married recently, and his mother-in-law made the wedding cupcakes. She made lots of test cupcakes and we were the lucky recipients of the extras. Unfortunately, I was on phase 1 of the south beach diet at that time, so those cupcakes were taunting me. They smelled amazing - and looked even yummier! White cupcakes with flecks of vanilla bean throughout, with a sweet glaze. Instead of caving in, I took one home and put it in my freezer to enjoy at a later time. Last night I needed a midnight snack so I defrosted it and gobbled it up. Yum. I think I will have cupcakes at my (hypothetical) wedding.

A few years ago I was wandering aorund Manhattan with my friend Jon (of stinky tofu fame) and he took me to the Buttercup Bake Shop. I think. I had an amazing banana pudding and we split a piece of hummingbird cake. Last summer I wanted to go back, but got confused and ended up at the Magnolia Bakery instead. I had the banana pudding (which seemed too sweet) and decided to try one of their famous cupcakes. I was disappointed. Maybe because of all the hype? The cupcake was a little on the dry side, and didn't have a significant flavor. And everybody gushes over the frosting, but really - you can do that yourself at home with some butter and powdered sugar. I consider something gush-worthy when even though the ingredients are simple, I'm pretty sure they put crack or something in there. Like the butter you get with your basket of bread at Ti Couz - pretty sure they put crack in it. I was eating that stuff by itself. Maybe I was just in a butter phase. But then our crepes came and I'm pretty sure they put crack in those too. I loved them so much I made crepes for breakfast the very next morning. I tried out the apple salsa recipe from the 101 Cookbooks site and it was really excellent with my ham and cheese crepe. The recipe works well with almonds as well - I didn't have walnuts.

No, I'm not on crack. It may seem that way because my post is so disjointed. I guess I just wanted to share my love for cupcakes. And the crepes at Ti Couz.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

I need this cookie....

This past weekend I went to Boston for my cousin's wedding. This was the first time I've flown United as a revenue passenger - my mom works for United and until I turned 25, I was able to fly standby for a small fee. But they don't let you do that once you get too old (bah!) so I had to buy a ticket.
I've been flying standby my whole life, and there are pretty strict rules as to how it works, so I was pretty excited for this flight. I got to wear jeans. And sneakers. This is very exciting when you're used to an 11-hour flight wearing dress pants, pantyhose, and heels. And I got to order a special meal. Not that I'm vegetarian, diabetic, have high cholesterol, or keep kosher, but it was exciting to be *able* to order a special meal. So I ordered a diabetic meal because I'm trying to cut down on sugar anyway.
With the meal there was a pre-packaged vegan chocolate chip cookie. Normally I scoff at vegan products because, well, I like meat and cheese. But I'll try any kind of cookie, and I have to say, it was hands-down the best cookie, vegan or non, that I have eaten ever. It was really moist and cinnamony, and the chocolate chips were the perfect consistency. It was also made with whole wheat flour, so I didn't feel guilty eating it. So I saved the wrapper in order to find the cookie at home and then buy a whole case or something. I googled "Miyoko's Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie" and to my utter dismay came up with only 3 websites, two of which were press releases for something called an UnTurkey. After a little bit more investigation I found a phone number to call and beg for a place to find this cookie. It turns out they don't sell them to the public and only make them for airlines. "Thanks for you feedback though, I'm glad you enjoyed the cookie!" said the woman on the other line. Hmph. Yeah, I enjoyed the cookie. But if I knew it would be my frickin' *last one ever* - grrrrr.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Am I a prude because the Paris Hilton Carl's Jr commercial made me blush?

This morning on the radio some people called in to say how they were offended by the Carl's Jr. commercial featuring Paris Hilton making love to a car, a hose, and then the Six Dollar Spicy BBQ Burger.

Yes, the commercial is overtly sexual, but that's not what offends me. I just don't think a major chunk of a company's advertising budget should be spent trying to push a 1,000 calorie hamburger with 62 grams of fat (25 of which are saturated fat - ew!) on impressionable young people.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not one of those people who think that it is entirely McDonald's fault for making people fat and unhealthy. Hey now, you chose to eat the Big Mac and super-sized fries every day - don't go suing McDonald's like they put a gun to your head and *made* you eat that stuff.

You know how celebrities are always saying they won't wear fur, or smoke cigarettes in movies because they want to "raise awareness" about issues like wearing fur and lung cancer? I wonder if it will ever come to the point where the fast food industry has really messed with us (today it's Paris Hilton throwing herself at us so we'll eat her burger, tomorrow it's heroin in the happy meals) that celebrities will refuse to eat potato chips on screen to raise awareness (or protest) trans-fatty acids and high cholesterol.

I understand that it's not in a fast-food company's financial interest to make the food healthier. Grade D ground beef is undoubtedly much cheaper than 95% lean ground sirloin. But you know, I would gladly pay an extra $2 or $3 for something healthier, and I feel like that should be fast food's new marketing strategy. Just because it's convenient and fast doesn't mean it has to clog your arteries. You're paying for quality and convenience. This is coming from a poor grad student who technically should be subsisting on cup ramen and mac and cheese - you only have one body, you might as well pay a little extra to feed it right so that you're around for the next 50 years...

Friday, May 20, 2005

Fruity Panna Cotta Stacks

About a month ago I bought a box of Knox gelatin envelopes, thinking that one day I might try to make panna cotta. Then I found out that this month's IMBB event involves all things jelled - I took it as a sign that I should actually attempt this and put myself out there in the food blogging public domain. :)

As a starchmouse, I feel incomplete when a dessert doesn't have some sort of floury/cookie/cakey-type component to it. And I didn't want to just serve cookies alongside the panna cotta (I made this for my mother's birthday) but I wanted to make the dessert look "fancy." I toyed with making a three-layer panna cotta, but chilling the individual layers would take so long. Then I thought about putting something solid in between the layers, but it would probably get soggy in the chilling process. Voila! Cookie layers!

I have to warn you - since my mom is on the South Beach diet, I had to make some substitutions. I'm writing down the recipe I *would* have used, but if you would also like to make a sugar-free, low-fat version, just substitute Splenda for the sugar and evaporated skim milk for the cream.

Buttermilk Panna Cotta:
1 cup strawberries
1 cup blackberries
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 packets gelatin (1/2 oz total)
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange zest

1. Blend strawberries with 1/2 cup buttermilk. Do the same for the blackberries and set aside for later.
2. Sprinkle both packets of gelatin over the water to soften and set aside while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
3. Heat cream, sugar, and vanilla over medium heat until hot. Take off heat and whisk in gelatin (which at this point, will be a solid gross-looking mass) until dissolved.
4. Over a medium bowl, pour strawberry mixture and 1/2 cup of cream-gelatin mixture into a sieve. Strain, then set aside. Repeat for blackberry mixture. With the remaining 1/2 cup of cream-gelatin mixture, whisk in 1/2 cup buttermilk and orange zest.
5. Pour mixtures into molds - I was able to get 2 heart-shaped 6 oz molds out of each component, for a total of 6.
6. Chill for 8 hours. Resist all temptation to stick it in the freezer to speed up the jelling process - you'll get a watery instead of creamy consistency. Not that I'm speaking from experience. :/

The individual flavors, pre-chilling. Aren't the colors pretty?

The assembly was a little tricky, since the panna cotta did *not* want to come out as a complete heart shape at all. So I had to fiddle a bit and it didn't turn out as pretty as I wanted. :( But it sure was yummy. I used an almond orange lace cookie recipe I found on Epicurious. I fiddled with it to make it South Beach-friendly for my mom, and it kinda turned out to be a disaster. I was a little nervous about the dough because it looked like a greasy, goopy mess. So I added more flour. Whoops. Not the way to go. It didn't spread out to make a nice and thin lacy cookie. But the orange flavor of the cookie went really well with the different panna cotta flavors.

The round-up of all the entries can be found here. So many entries! Next time I'll make sure my entry is aesthetically up to snuff. :)

Thursday, May 19, 2005

I heart San Sebastian

About a gazillion years ago I went to Bordeaux and San Sebastian. Okay, it was really in March. My dad had a business trip in Bordeaux, and my mom works for United Airlines. Together, this adds up to a weekend in France! My dad rented a car so we drove down to San Sebastian.

On the way we stopped in Biarritz, an ocean town "exposed to the sea breeze, nestling in the Bay of Biscay." (Loosely translated from the website.) We looked at the pretty pretty water, then ate salad.

Looks yummy, right? But the real eating began in San Sebastian, later that night. My parents and I wandered around Parte Vieja, a mostly pedestrian area full of bars. We don't speak any spanish, and I doubted my german would get us very far, so mostly we pointed. We discovered you just go to a bar, drink a little, eat a little, settle your bill, then walk on to the next bar. Mercifully, they pour small drinks, or else after three places my vision would have been this blurry:

I guess as it was, I *did* have a lot to drink! I think there were some people celebrating something because a whole parade of people were walking around, shouting some songs and banging their drums. Or maybe that's just a typical night.
We started at Bar Astelena:

These were heavenly. I was really never a big fan of anchovies, but they weren't too salty! Next, we tried some cooked pintxos:

Luckily, somebody told us that we were to grab a plate of what we wanted and the kitchen would cook it for us, or else we would have been eating raw scallops! The other things we really couldn't figure out exactly what they were, but they were deep-fried and had meat inside, so we were happy.
After that, we went to a couple other places, where we had a yummy marinated squid salad and a block of manchego the size of my head, as well as some more anchovies - wrapped around garlic, around olives, on get the picture. Stuffed, we headed back to our hotel...and the next few weeks were spent lamenting the fact that San Francisco doesn't have it's own Parte Vieja where I can stumble around, drinking tiny drinks and eating fabulous food without going broke. :)

We drove back to Bordeaux the next day, picked up my brother at the train station, then went to do some serious gastronomic damage. My mother and I tackled a skate filet with a yummy caper sauce and my dad and brother had manly meat. Together, we had an entire bottle of wine - a major accomplishment considering I'm drunk after half a glass, my mom will only have a couple of sips, and brother isn't even 21 yet. I was a little tipsy walking back to the hotel and my family laughed at me as I wobbled around.
I'm still full thinking of all the caneles and croissants I ate! And can I just say how much I love escargot? Yum. We talked to a lot of locals (very friendly people in Bordeaux!!) who loved the fact that we were from San Francisco - "ah yes! San Francisco! Relaxed like here in Bordeaux, not crazy like New York and Paris!" Except all said in a french accent. :)

Other pictures from that trip are here.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Passover and the South Beach Diet

Every year Rich observes Passover, which means he spends ten days not eating bread, grains, products with corn by-products, and not drinking beer! (On a side note, he'll eat shrimp, which is not even kosher, but I've given up why he'll eat this but not the whole wheat matzoh that is marked "not for Passover use." Hmph.) I figured this would be a perfect time for me to start the South Beach diet. We'll spend an almost equal amount of time being restricted by what we can't eat, and since Rich can't go on the diet with me for moral support because if he lost any weight he'd disappear, this will be the closest to moral support I will get.

Most days, I don't let outside factors hinder my ability to enjoy food. My lack of money, for instance. True, I can't go out to restaurants every night, but I can try to cook something yummy at home. And I definitely make cooking a priority - when I was weighing new clothes over a food processor, the food processor won. Other days, however, I realize I can't just eat whatever I want with reckless abandon. And it is reckless - I'm not the girl who can just savor a small sliver of tart, I have several slivers. I can't just have a normal portion of manchego, I have three thick slices. Maybe I was always like this but my metabolism just kept up. But lately it's rebelling. After I ran a marathon last August, I noticed that I had suddenly gained 10 pounds. And several inches around my belly.

I can't just cut back my food and start exercising more - I need structure. So I enrolled in a 6:30am boot camp and borrowed my mom's SBD book and prepared myself for two weeks of no bread and fruit and sugar (wah!!!) My friend said "You love food! How could you just go on a diet that won't let you eat bread??" And I haven't figured that out yet. I think it's because as a starchmouse, I'm controlled by my need for bread and sugar. And I'd like to get to the point where I truly enjoy it, but don't need a "fix." And when I go to my cousin's wedding in May, I would like for the first words out of all my aunt and uncle's mouths to not be "you gained weight!" Koreans have a habit of pointing this out first before saying hello.

Anyways, it's been 6 days since I've started, and I'm pleasantly surprised that I haven't been climbing the walls for bread. I did have a huge sugar craving the other day - I caved in and had some sugar-free frozen yogurt. Ew. I'm definitely eating more veggies than before, but the amount of protein and low-fat cheese I'm consuming is mildly freaking me out.

My last meal before the diet was at Passover Seder. So much food! Rich and I spent 6 hours in the kitchen tending to the brisket...

What a ridiculously fatty cut of meat! I wish we had had more time - we made about 10 pounds, and I think only 6 of those pounds turned out truly tender.

Mike on the other hand, spent four hours brining his turkey and then eight hours drying it out before he roasted it, and it was spectacular...

More pictures here.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Below (in backwards order) are pictures of the birthday dinner Rich made me. I did not lift one finger in the kitchen! And it actually turned out very yummy :) Upon perusing his (I think only) cookbook, titled "Clueless in the Kitchen," he decided to make me a stuffed pepper kind of dish. It turned into peppers stuffed with cous cous, turkey, and tomato sauce. It was very very good...and look at the vegetables! All my harping about eating more veggies is beginning to stick, I think.

The finished product! Posted by Hello

Rich next to the empty peppers... Posted by Hello

What could this be? Posted by Hello

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


...Rich is going to cook me dinner for my birthday tonight.

When I first met him, he didn't cook much. Mostly he ate out, and if he did make something at home, it was simple, like pasta. A big night of cooking for him was putting some chicken in BBQ sauce and sticking it in the oven, along with some frozen fries. I quickly tried to put a stop to that. As grad students, we can't afford to eat out almost every night. And although he has a high tolerance for eating the same thing meal after meal, I definitely don't. So we tried cooking together.

In the beginning, "cooking together" meant I would tell Rich to saute something, he would say "I don't know how," then I would say (all annoyed) "you just stir the damn stuff in the pan, how hard is that?" To his credit, he wanted to try hard, it was just easier and faster for both of us if I did the work. And when I did teach him to do something, like saute and chop/dice and roast, he wouldn't do it often enough that it would stick, so he'd have to learn all over again.

We realized this pattern of me buying groceries and cooking for him couldn't continue. I was getting cranky from having to buy 3x what I would normally buy because he eats so much more than I do, and he was annoyed because I wasn't letting him help me at all, but would still get mad at him for not helping.

We made a plan - each week we would make dinner twice together. We would plan together, go grocery shopping together, and cook together. We made this plan maybe a month and a half ago, yet we've really only carried it out in full (from planning->shopping->cooking) once. Things happen, people get busy - I guess we just underestimated how much effort this venture would take.

Today he is actually going to take a half day off work (this guy doesn't take off work for *anything*) so that he will have enough time to think of what to make, buy the ingredients, and put it all together. Awww, what a big sweetie. I've always believed that anybody can cook, especially engineers! I mean, all day we come up with ways to solve problems. Sometimes with guidance, sometimes by the seat of our pants. So we should be able to follow recipes, right? I'm sure he'll be pleasantly surprised at how simple cooking can be - and therefore more willing to cook more often with me :) Oooh, I hope he remembers to make cake....

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

sniffle sniffle hack hack

The yummy-sounding title alludes to the fact that I have been sick since Friday and *still* feel like death on a stick. I also went to Las Vegas this weekend (the trip was already paid for - I couldn't *not* go!) so that probably didn't help. More on that trip soon, when I remember to bring in my camera and upload pictures. Although the only food-related picture I have is of the 20 desserts we ate at the Bellagio Champagne Brunch. I still feel weird popping out my camera in the middle of a restaurant to take pictures of the plates, which is too bad because we had this amazing seafood starter at the Eiffel Tower restaurant. It's Tuesday and I'm still full from the Bellagio brunch. Oy.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


"I think you'll like it, once you get over the fact that it smells like gym socks."

Hmm. This is what my college buddy Jon said to me when he was in town last week. We were meeting one of his friends at Spices! II for dinner later that night, and he was hoping they'd have stinky tofu. Yup, stinky tofu.

Jon is the only jewish boy from Long Island I know who has a master's in Chinese and has eaten zebra. He has the same reaction to certain foods that I do (excited bouncing up and down) so I usually will eat anything he likes without hesitation. But gym socks??

Spices! II, unfortunately, did not have stinky tofu, but if they had, I probably wouldn't have been able to taste or smell it. The first dish to appear on the table was "numbing spicy cucumber" - marinated cucumber spears that were garlicky and hot - it looked just like this kimchi my mom makes, so I wolfed some down - and then my mouth was on fire. I can handle hot stuff, but this was....yowza! I panted my way through the rest of the dishes - braised pork with pickled peppers (the peppers were slightly sweet so a very yummy combo), eggplant with fresh garlic and basil, dry-braised eel strips, and tan-tan noodles. Everything was really good - or were my tastebuds just shot? At any rate, the chinese pop music videos in the background were amusing enough to distract me from the flames shooting out my mouth.

There is also a Spices! I a couple blocks away, and they serve stinky tofu. But the dishes are different. On Monday I went after a salsa class and we ordered the cucumber and tan-tan noodles. For something new, we tried braised beef shank with 5 spices. Disappointing. :( The cucumber tasted slightly medicinal and the tan-tan noodles were greasy from some weird ground beef sauce, a far cry from the peanutty goodness we had tried the first time. The beef shank just tasted salty - no 5 spice flavor anywhere. So from now on, we'll stick to Spices! II.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Oysters, Beer, Basque food

This weekend I found myself in North Beach, shivering in flip-flops, downing a plate of oysters. Huh? I never thought of myself as an oyster-lover, but I figure if I *enjoyed* a plate of the suckers that I bought at a festival I must like them. Hell, even love them. Maybe it was the beer. Anyways, at this oyster and beer festival, we sat front row at a cooking demonstration. Sounds fancy, but really it was just a bunch of hungry and drunk people hoping to get a taste of whatever was being demonstrated - there were potato pancakes topped with oyster, a "scotch egg" except made with oyster, and my favorite, the bloody mary oyster shooter. Yum. I even got to be the "judge" - there were two versions and I had to say which one I liked better. All after trying to down a humongous oyster in one shot, tomato juice dribbling everywhere. Attractive.

Because we were in the area, we decided to have an early dinner at Iluna Basque. I was sooo excited - having just come back from the Basque region and sampling the yummy tapas there, I wanted to see if I could get my fix at home. And I had read really good things about this place.

We got three dishes - fresh dungeness crab with avocado, a Basque cheese plate, and peppers stuffed with salt cod. I know, I can't judge a whole restaurant based on three measly dishes, but I was discouraged. The "fresh" dungeness crab dish was horrible - the texture seemed like it was actually thawed-out frozen crab, and it didn't have any dungeness flavor. Actually, it had no flavor, except for a really fishy smell. The cheeses were good, but for the price (almost $9) you'd think we'd get more than three tiny slivers. The peppers were good - nice sweet roasted flesh, filled with a salt cod and potato filling. It was also very reasonable ($4.25) considering it was a lot more food than the cheese plate, plus took more work to prepare.

I'm tired of going to "amazing" restaurants and getting disappointed. This is the fourth hyped-up place I've been to (the first three were paul k, Boulevard, and the Carnelian Room) that has left me wondering who the hell reviewed these places and how they got so many people to believe them. Sigh.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Once I finally get over jetlag and import my pictures, I'll have updates on my trip to Bordeaux and San Sebastian. Lots and lots of yummy eating there....

Friday, February 25, 2005


In December my family went to Japan. We started out in Kyoto and after three days took the Shinkansen to Tokyo. The food was amazing - not just how it was prepared, but how it was served, and the fact that even though we ate the same type of food three meals a day, 7 days straight (well, there was a Mos burger, but that story comes later) it was so yummy we never got sick of it.
It's interesting - I've seen lots of japanese TV and thought I had a handle on what typical japanese cuisine is like - but it really is amazing. So simple! Simple preparation, simple flavors, simple presentation - but all together, totally yummy and aesthetically pleasing. I am now obsessed with japanese pickles, and hot tempura soba, and broiled fish, and egg custard. There's a line in Lost in Translation where Bill Murray is on the phone with his wife and he says "I want to start eating like the Japanese..." or something like that. But it's totally true. A week of this and you're hooked.
In Tokyo is a huge fish market - the Tsukiji market. We went at 8:30am I think, and it was "slowing down" because all the professionals had already come and gone, so all that was left were civilians. We saw huge slabs of tuna belly, whole tuna (probably weigh more than me!) and all sorts of sea creatures. But what was really amazing were the rows of restaurants - most were packed, and had a huge line out the door. At 9am!! We chose a sushi place because the price was extremely reasonable (not just for Tokyo) and waited. And when we finally got in, it was....incredible.
First of all, I was a little skeptical because...sushi in the morning? Yew. But everything was so fresh that after a couple bites you just had to have more. I had all my favorites - salmon, tuna, bonito, yellowtail - and nearly tried horse (thank goodness somebody translated that for me) but the two things that stood out were the yakitoro (grilled fatty tuna) and ankimo (monkfish liver).
Imagine a huge slab of fish, marbled pink like beef because of the fat streaks. Then, a blowtorch is used to brown the top surface. And when the bones of the fish have been pulled out, they leave these little nubs that get really brown and crispy. And it's been salted, so there is no need to dip it in soy sauce. And when you finally eat, you *literally* roll your eyes because it *is* the most amazing thing you've tasted.
And the ankimo - it's my new favorite thing. Foie gras of the sea. :) Creamy, without the organmeat smell you find in cow's liver. And served with a citrusy sauce and grated radish, which helps bite through the richness. Apparently, it's easy to prepare, so I might try doing it here at home.....
So, all I can say is, if you ever go to Tokyo, you will of course find yummy sushi anywhere, but for the price and experience, just go to Tsukiji. The only bad thing is that you'll be so spoiled it will be a long time before you can go back home and eat sushi there without sighing and thinking of Tsukiji.....

Monday, February 14, 2005


I love breakfast.

I could eat breakfast food all day long. You know those huuuge plates of food at the Pork Store? I can finish one all by myself. And *still* pick at everybody else's plate. That's how much I love breakfast food.

So of course, I was excited to try out a new place. I needed to pick up a chocolate mousse cake at Schubert's Bakery (which is so yummy it will get its own post later) on Clement, and we were hungry and passed by a full diner with people waiting outside. That pretty much sold us, so we put our name on the list and prepared for a 25 minute wait.

The place is called Eats, at 50 Clement st.

Looking at the menu, it has your typical breakfast diner food - omelets, pancakes, etc. In addition to their buttermilk pancakes, they also have ricotta, blueberry, and conrmeal pancakes (all separate items ) - yum! But I was feeling like I wanted a little bit of everything, so I chose the pancake special - two eggs, two pancakes, and bacon or sausage, just $4.50! Rich had a veggie omelet with hash browns and toast.

I know the place was fully, but it wasn't *that* big, and we had to wait *forever* for our food. I'm pretty patient, especially when it comes to waiting for breakfast food, because then I figure the extra time equals extra yumminess. But I was disappointed when our food came out.

Not that it was horrible - my pancakes were pretty good, and the omelet was excellent - full of yummy things like spinach and avocado and tomatoes. But his potatoes looked really greasy and had too much prapika. I like nice crispy potatoes. Also, my scrambled eggs were fake!! You'd think with the amount of time they took, they would have at least cracked open a couple real eggs, but no, I got the rubbery out-of-the-box stuff. Ew. The omelet was made with real eggs - why couldn't they just do that for scrambled eggs??

So hit or miss. I'm definitely going back to try the ricotta pancakes, and if I order egg dishes again it will definitely be omelets or fried eggs.

Thursday, February 10, 2005


I didn't take advantage of Dine About Town as much as I would have liked to, but I was very happy with the one place I did go. We went to Bacar and it was very yummy! They also treated us nicely, which is important because I feel like I've been to a string of nice restaurants lately where they have treated us like crap because we look young, and therefore, are unworthy of decent service. Blargh.
Anyways, what I had:
Wok-roated PEI mussels: this dish was amazing. First of all, it was a "starter" but could have easily been an entree because it was a *bucket* of maybe 30 or so mussels. I've never had PEI mussels before, I'm only used to the frozen New Zealand kind, so I don't know if it's the way it was prepared or the natural flavor, but they were very sea-tasting. Not everybody's favorite flavor, but the intensity of it, plus the garlic, was very good.
Pan-roasted poussin: almost too cute to eat! A little difficult to carve up your own tiny chicken, but the flavor was good. It came with spinach and mushrooms. Not just any mushrooms, a whole assortment of wild ones, with the really earthy flavor.
Caramel panna cotta: a little too much gelatin, perhaps, so it wasn't as creamy as I would have liked, plus the caramel sauce (while good) was a little overkill, but the dark chocolate saved the dish.

Definitely worthwile - it's a place I would go to again, even though it's not really in my grad-student-budget. :)