Category Archives: Appetizer/Snack

Summer Squash Pancake with Dill Yogurt Sauce (Gluten-free)

Recipe VERY scientifically experimented from: various zucchini fritter recipes 

squash fritters

Have you seen a dead cactus?  I have, because I managed to kill one before. And it’s truly one of the saddest sights you would ever see. It was given to me as a souvenir from my co-worker’s Santa Fe vacation – The entire office was horrified and dismayed when they discovered a brown shriveled shell looping over a tiny Mexican clay pot on my desk months after. I was immediately declared to have “toxic black thumb”, never to care for any living things EVER.

squashesThe fact that I now live with 3 dogs and grow vegetables is not because I am sufficiently rehabilitated, but because animals let me know when they need to be fed, and also I have, over the course of years, haphazardly yet continuously developed a catalog of plants that can survive my gardening skills (or the lack of).

Squashes definitely make the cut in my short list, and every year I plant at least a couple of different kinds – This year I settled with yellow crookneck and pale green pattypan types.  They did not disappoint, and in my opinion, now deserve to be made into something spectacular – Like these yummy fritters.

Of course they are hardly my innovation but rather traditional and popular Mediterranean snack. But I did tinker with various recipes to find the balance that would strike a sweet spot for me every time. Continue reading

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Za’atar Spiced Beet Dip with Goat Cheese and Hazelnuts

Recipe adjusted from: Food & Wine Magazine (Contributed by: Yotam Ottolenghi)

za'atar spiced beet dipI *adore* beets. It is my typical weekend routine to buy and roast a bunch so that I can enjoy them throughout the coming week. Whether with a quick lemon-balsamic vinaigrette and toasted nuts on the bed of greens or in creamy yogurt sauce with fresh herbs and spices, their intense sweetness always comes through even in simplest preparations and never ceases to amaze me. As if that is not enough, I also tend to order a beet appetizer when I eat out if the restaurant has one on the menu. I feel by now I have tried every possible combination of ingredients when it comes to eating beets.

So when I say this may be my favorite way of eating beets – You should know it’s not just good, it’s CRAZY good. Do consider yourself warned; Ever since I discovered this recipe, I have been making and eating it non-stop. I may have possibly exceeded my lifetime quota of beet consumption at this point. Continue reading

Rather Desperate Goma Dofu (Sesame Tofu)

Recipe adapted from: Collective wisdom of Japanese home cooks on http://www.cookpad.com

rather desperate goma dofu

Where exactly did March go?  It has been all blur with late nights and working weekends, and the next thing I knew was that I needed to do my tax. Except that I do recall acknowledging that I now reached the new low as I was swallowing a left-over bagel from company breakfast for lunch. At 4PM.

So when one of my co-workers asked me if I knew a good Japanese restaurant to take her out-of-town friends to, I realized I haven’t been to any of the places I was recommending for a while. However, the thought of fancy Japanese restaurants hit me with a sudden craving:

Goma dofu. Must. Eat. Goma dofu.

Rich, nutty and delicately sweet, goma dofu (sesame tofu) is actually not tofu in a sense that it is not “bean curd”. It is sesame crushed into a paste, mixed with water and thickened by kuzu starch, then molded to look like tofu. Intense sesame flavor and creamy texture always leave me wanting more, but I never attempted to make it myself since the authentic production method – still strictly followed at zen temples where it was originated – sounds incredibly labor intensive. And obviously, now is not a good time for serious culinary experiments.

But this is a kind of emergency, I thought. If it is basically made of sesame paste and starch that thickens it – Wouldn’t my pantry staples like tahini and corn starch do? Continue reading

Chinese Five-Spice Chicken Wings (Bonus: Super delicious homemade soup stock)

Recipe By Courtesy of: My Mom – It’s one of our family favorites!

chinese chicken wings

tomato egg drop soupAndrew and Justin are a 20-something programmer duo that I work with and they were not impressed when I passed on the URL for this blog. Upon reviewing the entries so far, Andrew declares: “I refuse to acknowledge any blog as “cooking blog” if they don’t have meat recipes.” But the chickpea stew is delicious – And people liked the tofu recipes I posted, too! “You need real food, woman. Tofu is disgusting,” says Justin. “Oh, and some of your photos are out of focus.”

Although the quality of the photos is my artistic choice (obviously), it’s true I have fewer recipes using meat as I eat it only once or twice a week these days. I’m not trying to make a statement – Rich, greasy food in general doesn’t get along with my stomach lately and I find plant-based meals easier to digest. But now that I think about it, this non-meat-eating habit seems to have come to me with other behavioral changes in recent years; I get up much earlier than I used to. I collect coupons before I go grocery shopping. And I spend significant amount of time watching Animal Planet where they advertise a medication to prevent osteoporosis between my favorite shows.

After all, maybe Andrew and Justin are onto something. Maybe I lost my edge. I mean – Since when have I become a Prius-driving, NPR-listening, vegetable-growing sensible professional adult? It’s time to reconnect with my fun, rebellious self. And nothing says I’m young and care-free and have high metabolism like chicken wings. Continue reading

Tuna Steaks Braised with Radicchio, Chickpeas & Rosemary

Recipe from: All About Braising (By Molly Stevens)

tuna steak braised with radiccio chickpeas and rosemaryI 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