Recipe trying to imitate: Eggplant Ragu from Granville Cafe
Upon hearing a phrase “fermented soy beans,” we Japanese are probably the only people who would go “Mmmmm…. Now THAT sounds delicious” and even truely mean it. But why not? They have given us critical foundation for traditional Japanese flavors that we simply should not live without – Soy sauce is made of fermented soy beans, for instance, and so is miso. And let’s not forget that dreaded but addictive natto. Mmmmmm.
So as you can imagine, I think quite highly of fermented soy beans and believe anything that comes from them, even if it is originated outside of Japan like tempeh, cannot be not awesome. But all these make it kind of ironic that my favorite tempeh recipe couldn’t be farther away from any Asian flavor. Continue reading →
Recipe from: A Spasso per L’Italia (By Ai Yonezawa)
While fava beans got a bad rep as the choice of side dish for a snobbish cannibal ever since Dr. Lector so eloquently described to agent Starling how he dealt with a census taker who apparently had asked one too many questions, I have a much fonder (and socially acceptable) memory of eating these beans at family dinner table – Fumbling hot beans freshly cooked off the pot, managing to break a black seam and pop it out of the skin, then simply dipping in a bit of salt to eat it one by one… Yum.
But perhaps the joy of eating them is even more amplified by the fact that these beans with perfect green hue would also mark the arrival of warm seasons. Whenever I come across fresh pods of fava beans piled up in the produce section of a local grocery store, the scene evokes such a happy pleasant feeling that it leaves me excited and giggly as well as extremely prone to impulse purchase.
This year I was determined to make this fava bean dish my sister wouldn’t stop talking about for months without actually giving me the recipe. My persistence paid off, however – I finally got my hands on the secret formula to try out myself. And now I am completely hooked. Continue reading →
Recipe from: All About Braising (By Molly Stevens)
I would assume a variety of content is critical to have an awesome blog and increase readership especially when you are starting out. So, obviously, I was planning to post something else this week as I knew I shouldn’t keep cooking chickpeas and fish even though it’s not that far from the reality. But then I went to grocery shopping and found thick, red, perfectly-sized sashimi grade ahi tuna steaks (on sale!) so I had to drop everything and buy them to make this dish because that’s what I do now if I come across a good-looking tuna steak. This is such a recipe. It’s a game changer.
It comes from All About Braising, an award winning cookbook by Molly Stevens. I ordered it when I got my first set of Le Creuset simply because I just wanted to make sure I get most out of those heavy pots as they were quite an investment. Soon the book arrived – And it completely floored me with my economically-motivated intentions by opening up a whole new world of cooking possibilities.
Not only is it a collection of great recipes, some of which I can no longer live without, but also her precision and accuracy in describing both principles of the technique as well as subtle details of each steps are MIND-BLOWING. You are guaranteed to be successful if you do exactly what she tells you to do. I do just that, and let myself indulge in a fantasy of being a domestic diva as I take out my prized Le Creuset from the oven and witness complete transformation of what’s inside from assortment of ingredients to an amazing meal. I might even throw an apron on. All that while I am developing some serious muscle. Fantastic. Continue reading →
Recipe inspired by: Zuppa di Cavolo (Italian Cabbage Soup)
I have had my fair share of a rock-hard bread loaf forgotten in the breadbox, but I never minded that much as there seem to be many usages for it – Famous panzanella salad and tomato & bread soup would be obvious and fun choices, whereas I could be more practical and make homemade croutons or bread crumbs to stock up in freezer.
Then one day, with another half loaf of old bread and some leftover ingredients, I almost accidentally put this together, adapting from a variation of Zuppa di Cavolo where the soup is ladled over toasted crusty bread. It INSTANTLY became my favorite way of consuming old bread – As a matter of fact, I like it so much that I now go so far as to let the bread go stale on purpose to make this dish.
But since I sort of made it up and perhaps tend to be overexcited thus somewhat incoherent when talking about it, I have had a hard time describing this dish to others and, consequently, convincing them how good it is – Even to my sister, who is actually married to an Italian (“So… it’s basically cabbage soup?” “No, it’s more like gratin. And bread becomes like French toast, but it’s savory and baked” “So it has eggs in it?” “No, it’s soaked in broth. And I put cheese on top. It’s soooo good! Make it. Make it TONIIIIGHT!!!” “Uhh… Okay…”). Continue reading →
Recipe inspired by: Chickpea Stew at Gjelina (and the lack of Robert Downey, Jr.)
Gjelina is a restaurant on trendy Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice, which is very popular despite of its unpronounceable name (it’s ja-lee-na). It is a kind of place that embodies everything great about LA when we get it right; The setting relaxed and casual but sophisticated and stylish, food simple at a glance but masterfully crafted and balanced with well selected ingredients, and wait staff good looking and friendly but not too friendly. You get the idea.
The problem is that EVERYBODY thinks the place is great (including Robert Downey Jr., who apparently makes frequent appearances… at least according to Yelp, although I have never seen him there) so the table is rather hard to book. But when I want to go there, I must go there and have their decadent maitake mushroom toast with truffle oil, super thin-crust pizza with Gruyere and arugula, and most of all, the unforgettable chickpea stew – NOW. Not tomorrow, not the day after. And definitely not in 2 weeks. Continue reading →