Sunday, September 27, 2009

I love my coffee.

I am addicted to ice cold Vietnamese coffee made using a slow-drip french filter, extra strong grounds and condensed milk. Longevity Brand is the best brand of condensed milk to use. You can get it at most Asian markets. (Hubby calls this stuff poison.)

Put on some swanky music...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Mommy potatoes, please?!

I love fingerlings! They are adorable, sweet and delicious. This is such a simple recipe. I make "Mommy Potatoes" at least 5 times a week, sometimes even more. The kids had some of this for breakfast (along with eggs, fruit and french toast) and I made it again with dinner before AND after services tonight!

25 min, 2 helpings
baking sheet & parchment paper (enough to cover tray)
1.5# bag of fingerling potatoes (cut/slice thin)
3T olive oil (enough to coat potatoes)
sea salt & pepper
4 garlic cloves (fresh, mince)
2tsp dry parsley

Preheat the oven at Convection Bake (or Bake) to 500 degrees. Clean and cut the potatoes into discs. Toss in olive oil.

Arrange/fit all the potato discs on the baking sheet, spread out carefully just one layer. Put tray on the lowest rack in the oven.

Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until edges of the discs are a bit crispy brown (but not black!). Pull out the tray and add the garlic evenly across the top, add some salt and pepper, and put back on the lowest rack for another 2 minutes. (Depending on how hot your oven is, add or minus 2-4 minutes.)

Take out, add more salt/pepper and parsley. Toss and serve immediately while still hot.

They are yummy and flavorful, but if you're a condiment type, you can fancy it up with ketchup, BBQ sauce or other fun flavors. For adults, I throw in crushed red peppers (pizza peppers) for kick. My kids, who are lovers of everything sour, squeeze fresh lime and sprinkle toasted sesame seeds. I usually serve this with seared wild mushrooms in garlic, olive oil and coarse salt. Omg, so good! I'll get the details on the shrooms on a later post. Okay, focus on current dish. Potatoes, yes. You can use red potatoes or butter potatoes or whatever potatoes.

When you are finished, your baking sheet stays CLEAN and you just have to carefully remove/toss the dirty parchment paper! Keep plenty of extra rolls of parchment paper in the kitchen at all times. If you use aluminum foil, most of your potatoes will end of sticking and ripping apart and it is just a mess. With the parchment, the cute little circle potatoes slide right off.

Don't throw left-overs away! Store in a zip-lock bag (with as much air squeezed out as possible) and into the fridge. Reheat by either putting them onto a pan on a burner with a teeny bit of olive oil or back in the oven (on parchment paper). Excellent with coffee in the morning, yum!

This quickie dip, photo above, is a mix of fresh Thai chilis, fish sauce, smashed garlic, lime juice and sugar. It adds a fiery satisfying kick to the potatoes as well as a splash of color. These delicious chilis are also called bird's eye chili peppers. I wear surgical nonlatex gloves to chop to keep my fingers spicy-free.

Okay, this is an easy one, a comfortable one. I had to start somewhere!

Shabbat Shalom, Lisa

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rosh Hashanah and Tour des Suds Dinner!

9:30am at City Park, Tour des Suds Mountain Bike Race!
We are blessed with amazing friends. Go team!
Let's see how this goes. This, this...blogging thing. 
I am a new hiker. Spectacular morning includes 2 hr speedy hike led by awesome Lady-K. Life talk, food talk, kids talk, back-in-the-day talk, cook talk, what-now talk, omg talk. Fast and furious. So I get physically and emotionally fulfilled by 11:15am! Then to lunch at Takashi with hubby consuming 2 orders of Sablefish nigiri, King Kong, Strawberry Fields, Summit w/Peach and 2 pots of tea. So satisfying!
The mountains are transforming and the days are gorgeous. And the blog talk sounds intriguing.
I want to talk about my kind of food. The stuff I daydream about. Food. Cooking. Grocery shopping. Food in the hood. My love affair with Costco. My 2am cravings of red meat. Lighting my hair on fire at the grill (more than once!). Dinner parties. My weakness for beautiful flowers. Ripe mango. Rice cookers. Cooking with kids all over the place. Doing it all with no time and no help! Throwing fancy-looking dinner parties with a BUDGET. Yes, I even keep to a budget!
The latest fun cooking gig was last Sunday. It was a glorious day that began with the Tour des Suds and closed with a victory dinner and end of Rosh Hashanah celebration.

Sunday night was fantastic here. 45 awesome friends - Catholics, Muslims, Mormons, Protestants, Jews and some nonreligious ones - show up. It was a magical fusion night done kosher-like-asian style with a lot of wine, perfect weather and, most importantly, no little kids around! When we gather everyone inside, hubby gives a warm toast and I light candles and say the prayer, break the bread... and we drink and we eat and we drink the school-night away!

(1) Vegetarian Eggrolls
(2) Dragonfruit

(1) Rice Noodles, bean sprouts, chopped lettuce, shiso leaf, mint, thai basil
(2) Beef Stew in lemon grass, with carrots and daikon
(3) Tofu stuffed with Beef, in tomato and onion
(4) Mushrooms, mixed wild mushrooms in ginger, garlic
(5) Chilean Seabass, seared in peppers, chinese bbq, rice vinegar
(6) Lamb, racks in mustard and herbs
(7) Tofu Stew with empire mushrooms, carrots, sour vegetables, daikon
(8) Vegetarian Steamed Rice Rolls
(9) Salad, Lychee, Strawberries, Cucumber in mustard sesame vinaigrette
(10) Grilled Red Chicken Skewers
(11) Porridge with tilapia, ginger, cilantro, scallion, eggwhites, corn carrot

(1) Mochi in red bean, black sesame, chocolate
(2) Lychee and Strawberries tossed in Shiso
(3) Cassava Mungbean Cake

Many dish disasters that evening, but overall people looked happy and well-fed and everyone left with nice things to say. Sunday is already so far back already. The details aren't too fresh in my head, so I hesitate retelling the details of food preparation for each dish, in risk of misrepresenting. Oh, and I completely forgot to take pictures of the food! Believe me, the above menu was really all out on the buffet.

I started writing this hoping to relive hour by hour to share with you in vivid detail the sort-of HELL I went through to pull off the dinner party. It wasn't really that bad, it's just that I get this ambitious amount of energy to squeeze in another dish and then another dish...and maybe one more dish? Time-management is all!

I hope that my 3 helpers will show up at 2pm and at 3pm. By 3pm, enormous amounts of toys, clutter, art supplies and bags of food are still piled up all over the place. I am steaming rice rolls. Boiling my 4th batch of rice noodles. (I mess up the 3 previous batches and the noodles boil into a solid dense cylinder of rice cake. Gosh!) The tofu, the oil, mint leaves all over the place, where are the lychees? where are they?!... Multi-tasking in excess. We were expecting 45 guests to come at 6pm "sharp," mainly as a courtesty for "the morning after" for those mommies with no nannies (like, moi!) and hubbies with day jobs (like, mine!). As expected, half show up between 30 and 45 minutes late. Still light out, everyone enjoyed wine and stunning views from the deck.

I'm trying to remember the day from start to finish, but all I can think of is the annoying FISH. The hell started from the beginning when I decided to use cod (so out of season, thus frozen fillet portions) and a real solid legit miso marinade recipe from the Nobu cookbook.

Total waste. 3-day miso-marinaded cod bad bad BAD when I test-broiled (something I never do) a piece for breakfast early Sunday. Even the cat didn't eat it. The plan was doomed from the beginning. I never use recipes! I've had this very Nobu miso cod dish at a dear friend's house a million times and loved it every single time and kept meaning to try it. The simpleness was alluring - marinate, broil, bake and serve, voila (vs frantic flash-searing in popping scorching oil). I thought I was getting my act together, doing advance prep, marinating for days for extra yumminess, thinking it would show up on the buffet as the ultimate complex sexy delish fish entree. Not! What a waste of all that cod, the miso, the mirin, the sake. So disappointing. Waste!

So, no cod. With all the fish-loving dinner guests, what do I do? I can't serve salmon, just can't. I immediately crave buttery, something cod-like. Chilean Seabass! You can NEVER go wrong with Chilean Seabass as it is nearly fullproof and will be the perfect buffet fish dish. Never dries out, doesn't overcook. I call around and find it at $11 a pound at a little Vietnamese market in West Valley. I order 7 pounds cut into 2 inch steaks (bone-in). When the sitter arrives at 11am and I go get it.

I don't think I can finish this posting, as I keep getting off topic rambling forever. Evolved into cod-venting post. The task of writing out recipes with measurements, EXACT measurements, sounds too hard! I DREAD DREAD DREAD writing out measurements. I don't know where to start with the recipes. Next time. Ugh. I will end this now. Oh, the lamb I served Sunday night was overcooked. I HATE well-done lamb. Ugh. I am SO annoyed I served overcooked well done lamb. AHH!