Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dinner Party - Part 2

Dinner party went fairly well. The cooking timeline I put together prior to the day of the event REALLY helped; in fact, I don't think I could have gotten everything done in time without it. Left my parents' place at about 7:30am, hit Costco before home, then immediately began preparing around 11:30am. Was just about finished when the first guest arrived at 6pm. Phew!

Overall, the menu was feared, some of the guests may have gone hungry hungry. I had backups purchased and available, but for whatever reason failed to serve them. Some photos (no pics of the inari or the full spread on the table. Alas. Next time!), followed by recipes:

Cooling the yellow cakes and banana bread.
Possibly the simplest Thai recipe ever.
The makings of Thai namya sauce.
The more-or-less completed namya sauce.
Chocolate ganache for the boston cream pie.
Parchment paper is hella expensive but seriously makes baking & cleanup MUCH easier. Genius moment!
About to assemble the pastry cream with the yellow cakes.
Want to work on making a pastry cream with more structure, to make a thicker cream layer to offset the bitter of the chocolate and sweet/dryness of the cake. Taste was fine.
Waited a little too long to spread the ganache...meh.
Mis-shapen khanom jeen. My dad's going to demonstrate how to make them prettier next weekend.
Tomato caprese w/ baby spinach posing as basil.
Boston Cream Pie: I used the following recipe (but w/ 3oz 72% dark cacao and 1oz semi-sweet nestle chips):
Tomato caprese: I used 4 vine-ripened tomatoes and store-bought mozzarella with a drizzling of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Didn't have fresh basil so used baby spinach leaves instead.

Thai namya noodles: 2 cans Maesri brand namya curry paste, 1 can solid white tuna in extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 can coconut milk, and a few tbsp of water. Mash the tuna until fairly fine, mix with curry paste, then combine w/ remaining ingredients in a pot over medium heat until it boils. Serve warm over khanom jeen noodles wound into little bundles.

Inari: 1 can inari tofu, approx 3 cups Japanese white rice (I use Nishiki medium-grain). Make sure the rice is warm; it makes the process of stuffing the tofu a lot easier.

Enchiladas: These I've made before --

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dinner Party

This weekend, M and I will be entertaining a few guests in our apartment for the first time since moving here. Tentative menu:

Starter - Chips & dip
Appetizer - Tomato caprese
Appetizer - Inari
Entree 1 - Thai namya noodles
Entree 2 - Chicken enchiladas
Dessert - Boston cream pie
Dessert - Apple something

You'll notice there's no real cohesiveness to this menu...Italian to Japanese to Thai to Mexican? Unfortunately, I will be out of town the day/night preceding, so the apartment must be turned upside-down and inside-out TODAY, and the meals must be simple, fast, tried and true. However, for the enchiladas, I want to try making my own enchilada sauce. I found this fairly simple recipe, and may give it a whirl...though it may mean sacrificing the most complex item on this menu (Boston cream pie).

Ten-Minute Enchilada Sauce

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons New Mexico or California chili powder (or mix. Best New Mexico chile powder is the 69 cent "Chile New Mexico Molido" in the red, white, and green package by the company "Mexico Spices Corp")
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup water (or chicken stock)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (or fresh garlic)
1/4 teaspoon onion salt
Salt to taste
Optional: 1-2 oz dark chocolate
  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in flour and chili powder, reduce heat to medium, and cook until lightly brown, stirring constantly to prevent burning flour.
  2. Gradually stir in tomato sauce, water, cumin, garlic powder, and onion salt into the flour and chili powder until smooth, and continue cooking over medium heat approximately 10 minutes, or until thickened slightly. Season to taste with salt. 
  3. Optional: Dip corn tortillas in sauce while still hot. Pour sauce in bottom of baking dish before placing rolled enchiladas. Sauce thickens in the oven. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pure Komachi 2 Knives

In Chinese tradition, receiving sharps as gifts isn't really a good thing. I had no awareness of this superstition until I received a pencil sharpener as a souvenir from one of my friends and my mother demanded I give him a quarter in return. Apparently if you receive a sharp as a gift, you're supposed to offer money to the giver (in essence, "buying" the knives from them) to keep bad luck away!

At any rate, ever since that transaction I've been afraid to receive sharps as gifts, and we never really had the funds set aside to invest in a good knife set (and why bother spending on a bad one?). We finally invested in the pleasantly affordable Pure Komachi 2 set by Kershaw. Not exactly as pictured above, but the 6-knife version as offered by Costco for a fraction of the listed cost. The price was right, and the reviews strong, so we're excited to try them out and hopefully spare our fingers any of the horror stories out there about how sharp Shun blades are. Big bonus points to Kershaw for letting customers send their blades in to be resharpened once a year -- for free!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Laughing Cow Light Swiss

Oh, the horrors of the grade school lunchroom. I remember throwing my plastic lunchbag into the trash can by accident, and crying about it...the teacher on duty was so angry after the custodian fished it out for me, thinking that it must've been some really fancy bag for me to be carrying on so (it wasn't). And then the year I had a fever and immediately barfed my Campbell's chicken stars soup back up onto the table, in near-perfect condition...

Anyway. As a kid, I spent most of my lunches either wishing I could have a tin pail like Laura or Addy (even though I probably would've hated mince pie), or jealous of my friends who had normal, "American" lunches (and they jealous of my lunches, which for several years of my life consisted of the aforementioned soup in a Thermos made of dubious plastics). You know, the "standards" like PBJ, a cheese sandwich, a Cosmic brownie, string cheese, fruit snacks, salami, etc. One more special item on the list included those little Babybel cheese rounds...not so much bc I liked the taste of Babybel cheese (I didn't, back then), but it was always super fun to unwrap the cheese from its wax coating (and then, of course, to play with the wax).

The Laughing Cow company also manufactures "light creamy swiss" cheese wedges, which I suppose is the product they market to the adult "low fat" crowd. Costco sells these wheels in a multi-pack, which is amazing bc they're so versatile. Tuck a wedge into your lunch for a handy, tasty, quick-n-easy snack, open it up and use 'em as a spread on crackers, fruit, eggs, or as a substitute for cream cheese. Pre-portioned at 35 calories per wedge, you can't go wrong. I'm using one right now in combination with a parmesan-crusted bagel. Awesome!

Bread Pudding

Happy OCTOBER everyone! :D

With morning temps in the 30s F, it's time for some hearty, warming dishes. As luck would have it, we had a woeful old loaf of bread hanging out in the fridge, so I decided it was time to make some bread pudding. The recipe posted here includes the adjustments I made to the original (taken from


7 slices day-old bread
2 tablespoons (salted) butter, melted
1/2 cup raisins (soaked)
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
3/4 cup (scant) white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Break bread into small pieces into an 8 inch square baking pan. Drizzle melted butter or margarine over bread. If desired, sprinkle with raisins.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Beat until well mixed. Pour over bread, and lightly push down with a fork until bread is covered and soaking up the egg mixture. 
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly tapped.
The only thing I want to try for next time is to reduce the sugar (since the raisins are quite sweet) and try a thicker bread. Also, let it sit for a bit before passing judgment on the texture -- it's initially a bit more custardy in consistency than I normally like, but firms up especially after being chilled. Tastes good though, and smells heavenly. Enjoy!

Lemon syllabub

Posting to save this recipe, to hopefully make one day!

Non-Alcoholic Lemon Syllabub