Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ginger Soy Salmon and Pasta

My boyfriend sent this picture to my phone Friday and said, "This is what we're having for dinner." Have I mentioned how amazing he is in the kitchen? He filleted up this salmon and created a masterpiece. I'm a lucky gal.
Ginger, soy and salmon...I'm only familiar with that combo when eating sushi. My boyfriend however, was going to make a pasta dish. When he sent me this picture I definitely was not thinking pasta, so I was intrigued and couldn't wait to taste the results. OH MY GOODNESS GRACIOUS...this is a recipe you MUST try. If you have someone to impress, I promise this will knock their socks off! (And it's easy!)
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Ingredients: Serves 2
  • 1 Salmon fillet
  • Mastaccioli pasta (or other penne variety)
  • 1/4 C soy sauce
  • 1 Small head of broccoli
  • 2 tsp fresh diced ginger (add more or less based on your liking of ginger)
  • 2 cloves diced garlic
  • 4 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 Lemon
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • (optional) Spoonful of sliced pink jarred pickled ginger--this adds great color to the dish!
Prepare pasta (enough for 2). When pasta is half cooked add the broccoli spears and cook until tender. Drain and set aside.
Cube salmon fillet and pan fry with the diced ginger and garlic in hot, oiled pan. Set aside.
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Melt butter and pour half into each serving bowl. Add half the soy sauce to each serving bowl.
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Slice the pink jarred ginger and also add to the bowls.
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Add the pasta, broccoli and salmon to each bowl and mix thoroughly.
Slice lemon in half and squeeze half over each bowl
Add salt and pepper to taste.
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Monday, August 24, 2009

Summer Saturday Surprise!

My boyfriend surprised me with a lovely Saturday afternoon picnic. Lucky for me he's got mad skills behind the stove (which he brought on our picnic--a little Coleman propane camper stove) and made up a amazing array of tapas style foods. The great thing about a picnic, is that on a nice day, not only are you getting an amazing view, you get to lay out on a blanket, linger for as long as you like, not worry about the waiter messing up your order, not have to pay a corking fee, and you save lots and lots of cash. I mean seriously--check out our waterfront view that we didn't have to pay for!
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We started our day on a visit to the Puyallup Farmer's Market, which I have to say I was quite impressed with. After picking up a little of this and a little of that, we prepped the ingredients in his kitchen, packed up our stuff and headed out to the waterfront.
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We opened up the cheddar jalapeno focaccia loaf we bought at the market and started off with a cucumber and tomato salad.
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Then he steamed up some artichoke with a garlic butter dip.
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Next was green beans, mushrooms, shallots, smoked bacon and cashews.
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Followed by steamed clams with shallots and celery.
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Dessert came from the wild blackberry bush behind us and a mini watermelon from the market.
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Can you imagine what all this would have cost with a waterfront view? Before we run out of summer days--go plan yourself a picnic with your sweetie. This little picnic was full of great food, views, company and memories that you just don't get from sitting at a restaurant.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Craving Korean: Bulgogi

Confession number two: Sometimes I hate to admit I'm half Korean. Before all the hapa's pitch a fit please let me explain. Besides being born in Seoul, knowing how to count to 10, saying hello and thank you, and really liking popular Korean food, I'm pretty uncultured in Korean culture. In fact, I'm useless at Korean restaurants. I look curiously at people's tables and wonder, "what is that?" I look at the menus and get uncomfortable and pray my friends don't ask me for suggestions and that the waitress can speak English. My comfort zone revolves around the words "kalbi, bulgogi, jab chae, bib bim bob, and kimchee chigae." (And I had to google most of those words to find the correct spelling...yes, that's how un-Korean I am). Those are the main Korean dishes that I recognize because my mom made them for me growing up. My mother, bless her heart, wouldn't let me cook growing up. "You make too much mess," she would say. "Go watch TV, I do, I do." Meaning, she would cook. I remember my mom squatting on the kitchen floor mixing cabbage and spices to make her own kimchee. She never followed recipes, and therefore was never able to pass any down. I really only eat Korean food when I go home to visit my parents in Texas, or if I go out to eat it. But I have been really craving Korean food lately and figured it might be wise to save some money and learn how to cook my favorite foods myself. I scoured the internet for buglogi recipes and settled on this one, from Alice's blog the Savory Sweet Life. (Check out her blog, it is awesome!) The recipe was SOOOOO easy and turned out tasting pretty darn close to my mom's bulgogi!

Here is Alice's recipe: (she even has a gluten-free variation!) I followed this recipe exactly as stated except for one thing--I marinated the meat overnight instead of just an hour. But either way it turns out delicious!
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  • 1-1.5 lbs. of thinly sliced rib-eye steak purchased from a Korean market. Or you can slice your own rib-eye or sirloin steak across the grain in paper thin slices. Partially freezing the beef helps with cutting clean slices.
  • 1/3 cup of soy sauce or for a Gluten-Free variation, use San-J Organic Tamari Wheat Free Soy Sauce found in the health food section of your local grocery store.
  • 3 Tbl white sugar
  • 1 Tbl sesame oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 of a medium yellow onion, halved and sliced into medium moon shaped slivers
  • 2 green onions including the white parts, finely sliced into small pieces
  • 2 Tbl toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes
  • 2 pinches of black pepper
  • *optional 1/4 tsp. of ginger, finely minced
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Whisk all the ingredients together in a medium bowl except beef and onions. When most of the sugar has dissolved, add beef and onion slices to the bowl and massage the marinade with your hands into each slice of beef. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. To pan fry, place a few slices of beef in single layers and completely flat on a hot oiled frying pan and fry each side until cooked. Some people prefer to cook the bulgogi until some of the edges have turned dark brown and crispy. Serve with a bowl of hot rice.
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Friday, August 14, 2009

Doodle Noodles--An Asian Noodle Concoction

I love Asian noodle dishes because you can dump random veggies in a pan with either chicken, beef or tofu, add some spices and always come out with a fairly healthy, filling, tasty meal. I rarely make the same noodle dish twice because I'm always updating it with different ingredients or spices--adding on or changing an ingredient from a previous dish, but if you use the same base of ingredients you should always come out with a consistently good meal. I must warn you, for the recipe I didn't measure anything out...these are "guesstimates" on the measurements. If you really want exact measurements then leave a comment and I'll figure it out for you!

Some basic ingredients that I almost always use when making noodles are soy sauce, garlic, ginger and
grapeseed oil (I cook with this because it has the highest flash point of cooking oils--but vegetable or olive oil works too). If you have a Trader Joe's grocery store near by, pick up these items the next time you stop in. They make Asian dishes a snap!

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The Recipe (serves 3-4)

  • Grapeseed oil
  • Soy Sauce or Trader Joe's Soyaki
  • 1/2 -3/4 of a bag of rice noodles
  • 1 Firm Tofu block (feel free to use chicken or beef instead)
  • 1-2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 lemons
  • Big handful of snow peas
  • 1/2-1 Tbsp of chopped or grated ginger---I LOVE ginger, so I tend to over do it
  • 3 Tbsp of Trader Joe's Peanut Satay or 2 Tbsp of creamy peanut butter
  • OPTIONAL dash of chili pepper or more if you like it spicy!
  • OPTIONAL Add any of your favorite veggies!

You should be able to find rice noodles in the Ethnic grocery aisle. Or you can find them at Asian markets (the noodles on the left) or at Trader Joe's (the noodles on the right).

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First boil noodles according to directions. DO NOT'll come out with a mushy mess.

While noodles are boiling, slice up tofu. Make sure to use FIRM tofu and really pat dry with paper towels to get the excess moisture out. This is the KEY to cooking tofu! Then cube.

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Add enough grapeseed oil or other cooking oil to frying pan to thoroughly coat pan. Once heated and add garlic, ginger, salt and pepper to taste and a splash of Soyaki or soy sauce, and tofu. (Make sure your noodles are drained and not overcooked!) Cook until desired consistency (if you like your tofu super fried...just keep em' in there longer!) Add sweet peas and toss for about 2 minutes.

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Once cooked, set tofu and veggies aside and add more oil to the pan. Add rice noodles (I suggest adding the noodles in small batches and really trying to spread them across the pan--this helps them from getting mushy.) Sprinkle some chili pepper over if desired, and add a couple of splashes of Soyaki or Soy Sauce and about a Tbsp of peanut sauce (or peanut butter) to each noodle batch. Mix well for about a minute, then repeat on next batch.

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Dish noodles onto a plate, add tofu and veggies and squeeze lemon over the dish. YUMMY!

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Lovin' Me Some Banh Mi!

Today I discovered a food that I had no idea existed. I know what you're thinking, "What kind of foodie does she think she is? She's never had Banh Mi!?" I know, I know, it's a little embarrassing to admit that I'd never even heard of it until I moved to Seattle. So for the other 2 people reading who don't know what banh mi is, it's an unbelievably flavorful Vietnamese sandwich served on a crusty baguette. For the nerds like me, you can read more here. This is no regular sandwich; this is a combination of unexpected and delightful flavors that is so mouthwateringly delicious I feel the urge to go get another one as I write this! And the best won't believe can usually find these very filling sandwiches at an authentic Vietnamese place for around $2 to $3! If you live in Seattle or you are passing through, there are many places to find these, but I got mine from Saigon Deli in the International District. This place has a lot of amazing reviews; you can read mine and others here.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Art of Mango Cutting

I am not the authority on mango cutting; I do however have an obsession with the sticky, stringy, slimy fruit. Fruits that have inedible peels annoy me…they take that much longer to sink my teeth into. Mangoes however are worth the wait. I wish I had a video of the first time I sliced into one; I had no clue what I was fact, I used a butter knife! I cut through it forgetting about the massive seed in the center, so then I peeled the skin off (again, with the butter knife) wasting huge chunks of the edible inner parts. It was slippery and dripping sweet stickiness everywhere and after practically squeezing the entire mango into a messy, lumpy, piece of something half of its original size, out of sheer frustration I started eating it like corn on the cob. The whole scene was quite hilarious.

There is nothing that comes close to the unique taste of mango, but if it was going to be so messy and so much work I figured I might just have to stick with ordering mango margaritas. I don’t know if there is a correct way to cut mangoes, but somewhere along the line I learned a simple trick that helps keep more mango in my mouth instead of on my lap.

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1. You'll notice that a mango has two opposing sides that are somewhat flat; those are the sides you want to slice through along the side of the seed. Use a sharp knife, ideally a paring knife.

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2. Cut a cross hatch pattern being careful not to cut through the skin

3. Gently turn the skin inside out and slice off the mango cubes

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4. Slice off the remaining edges around the seed, peel and cube

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5. Don't waste any! Scrape the remainder off the seed with your teeth! YUMMY!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Easy Breezy Fancy Smancy Scramble

I have an obsession with breakfast food. I can eat eggs morning, noon and night and any style—scrambled, poached, fried, hard-boiled, I like it! This weekend I hadn’t made it to the grocery store yet and it was lunch time and I was hungry. Here’s what I pulled out of the fridge:foodie 004

  • Carton of egg whites
  • Sun dried tomatoes
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Goat cheese
  • Bread

I was hoping I had some mushrooms and frozen spinach lying around, but nope. Those would have been excellent additions to make my scramble even fancy shmancier. The nice thing is this literally takes just minutes to make. I made this for myself…but if you’re making it for the family just eyeball the ingredients and add more of the stuff you like. You can’t really have too much good stuff in your eggs!

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Add sundried tomatoes and artichoke hearts to medium heat. Add 2 eggs or about ¼ cup of any brand of egg whites. Toast whole wheat bread, and English muffin or bagel while mixture cooks. Mix until eggs are cooked thoroughly. Toss some goat cheese on top, add salt and pepper to taste, butter up your bread and voila! A super simple, expensive looking meal in just minutes!

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Shabby Chic...A Lunch Idea

I get bummed if I'm out of leftovers. It means I don't have a lunch to pack for work the next day, which means I spend money I don't have, which means when I check my credit card statement at the end of the month I'm appalled that what I'm spending on lunch could have been a car payment. (Do you rationalize like me and say, "but at least I'm racking up those airline miles?") After re-budgeting for the umpteenth time since moving here, I know that I need to pack my lunch more often. But Tupperware was empty and I only had a few random things left in my fridge. However, the few random things were the perfect combo! Crackers, cheese, spicy hummus dip, prosciutto, wine...oh wait...not on my lunch hour...left the wine at home. I figured this would be popular stuff at happy hour, why shouldn't I pack it and eat it for lunch? The difference is I threw the spread on a paper towel which was on top of a vinyl lime green table cover in the lounge at work instead of white table cloths and with fancy dinnerware; I sipped on Kirkland bottled water instead of pinot noir, and tore up the cheese up with my hands instead of slicing each piece into perfect squares. Oh...and I ate hummus out of a plastic tub...classy eh? I did get a lot of oohhs and ahhhs in the I thought I'd share a lunch idea that doesn't fit perfectly into a plastic Tupperware container, but is filling, different and most likely you can find many of these ingredients lying around your kitchen. Great alternatives would be deli meat, pita bread, a dip or spread of any sort, and veggies. I know there are enough random things in your fridge and cupboard to save you a trip from a drive through tomorrow...just be creative!
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I'm telling you...nothing says gourmet like a lime green table cloth!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Neighborly Gatherings

It's taken some adjusting to get used to my new city. After leaving all my earthly possessions, friends and community in San Diego, moving here for a guy and then breaking up, being unemployed for 3 months, moving again within the city, my dog escaping--getting hit by a car and having to put her down, family drama....well, you can see that Seattle was not shaping up to be the move I was hoping it would be. I searched for a room to rent on Craigslist, packed the few belongings I had and moved into the basement of a home in a suburb north of Seattle. (For those of you not from Seattle, living in basements is fairly common--but it just sounds dreadful!) I've been here just over a month and fortunately things are working out wonderfully. I have to admit, my biggest concern looking for a place to live was the kitchen. Would I be able to use it? Were there sufficient cooking supplies? Will there be room for my ridiculously insane amount of spices, oils and other food stuffs? My new roommate has been gracious enough to not only let me use her kitchen, but to also let me use the ingredients from her small garden in the back yard. SCORE! I do hope in the future I'll have lovely dishes, cookware, and a camera better than the camera phone I've been using to take pictures...but all the more reason "low brow" is in the title of the blog.
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My move in date was just in time to settle in and get ready for the annual block party/get together. I highly recommend organizing one with your neighbors if the tradition is not already in place. Not just to prevent you from calling your neighbor "man," " dude," "ma'am," or "mister" each time you bump into each other taking out the trash or walking the dogs, but to get together to try new foods, share recipes, update each other's lives, learn who's traveling where, who is separated, who is looking for a new job and to meet the newbies in town. I learned that the gal living next door to me works for! Hello....I love that website and I was happy to be rubbing elbows with her!
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Seattle, you're not so bad. (Ask me how I feel in the winter....things could be drastically different!)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Seafood Boil!

I have a confession...I'm scared of seafood. Not of eating it, but of preparing it. Seafood with hard shells scare me the most--clams, mussels, crab and lobster. But after watching a friend prepare me a seafood feast, I realized just how ridiculous my fears were. It's so stinkin' easy! If you haven't noticed, I like recipes that don't call for exact measurements...a little of this, a little of that--yeah, that's definitely my style of cooking! So here is a recipe, but feel free to add or subtract anything that doesn't sound super delicious to you.
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Serves 4
  • 1 lb clams
  • 1 lb mussels
  • 1 lb prawns or shrimp
  • 1 lb crab legs
  • 2 lemon or limes
  • Seafood boil seasoning, any brand
  • 4-5 red potatoes thickly sliced
  • 2-3 Corn on the cobb halved
  • 2 zucchini thickly sliced
  • 2 medium links of andouille or smoked sausage sliced
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • In a large pot, bring water and seafood seasoning to boil
  • Add potatoes and corn, cook for about 10 minutes--remove potatoes and corn
  • Pan fry zucchini, sausage and toss in the boiled potatoes until thoroughly cooked
  • Add mussels to boiling water, cook about 5 minutes then add clams and crab and cook 5 more minutes. Add shrimp the last 2 minutes
  • Remove all ingredients and arrange on a serving platter or toss over a bunch of newspapers.
  • Squeeze lemon/lime juice and sprinkle extra seasoning over mix.
  • Melt butter and use for dipping
Tip: Where a bib or old T-shirt...this gets messy!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Picnic Perfect

It's perfect picnic weather right now in Seattle which gives me a great excuse to gather a hodgepodge of different foods and mix and match. I wanted to make a pasta salad...but not just any plain Jane pasta salad; I wanted to make something that people would say, "WOW, what is in that"!? I personally feel there are two ingredients that always make a meal seem fancy shmancy. Sun dried tomatoes and/or basil pesto. So I used both.

Sun Dried Tomato, Basil Pesto Pasta Salad
Bag of Penne Pasta
1 Cup of fresh or jarred pesto
1 1/2 C frozen peas
2 Tbsp Mayo
1/4 C slivered Sun Dried Tomatoes (or less...just preference)
1/4 C quartered artichoke hearts
Parmesan (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Boil pasta and drain
Mix frozen peas and pasta in large mixing bowl
Mix mayo into pesto, add sun dried tomatoes then mix into peas and pasta
Gently mix in artichoke quarters, add salt pepper to taste.
Refrigerate about 20 minutes and add parmesan before serving.
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While the pasta was cooling I sliced some sharp cheddar and Monterrey jack cheese. I also slivered up some prosciutto and bagged those things up to add to crackers.
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Finally I bagged up some hummus, red grapes, seltzer water, plastic ware and I'm off!!
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