Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Adorable Onigiri

Inspired by the gorgeous photos and instructions from Lunchinabox.net, I decided to try my hand at making yaki onigiri (grilled rice balls). I used Japanese Kokuho Rose rice which is short-grained and sticky, perfect for holding the onigiri shape, and filled some of the onigiri with curried tuna (drained canned tuna mixed with mayo, curry powder, green onion, and salt). This technique from Just Hungry helped with the shaping of each ball. To differentiate filled and plain onigiri, I rolled the edges of the plain ones in toasted black sesame seeds. I also mixed some sesame oil into the soy sauce used for brushing each ball before pan frying.

onigiri (untoasted)

The result? Georgeous, toasted rice that pairs nicely with curried tuna and would be even better with some kind of dipping sauce (maybe more soy). I deem this experiment a success!

yaki onigiri

Monday, July 28, 2008

Birthday Food

My birthday was yesterday and I spent the whole weekend eating! Dinner on Saturday was with a group of 10 at Al Tiramisu in Dupont. Tom used to live down the street from there so I'm not sure how we never tried it before. I'll definitely be back though! Prices are extremely reasonable (most pastas under $20 and entrees in the low $20s) and everything was fresh and tasty. We were a bit disappointed with dessert but the rest of our meal was fantastic.

Lobster pasta

Unbelievable butternut squash tortellini

Pappardelle with wild mushroom ragu

The next day, Tom and I tried the new brunch at Co Co. Sala downtown. $22 fixed price menu for a small amuse bouche (a chocolate fritter), a choice of 4 different main dishes, and dessert. Yummy and very unique but maybe only worth trying once.

Chocolate fritter

Yummy ricotta pancakes

Lukewarm but still good breakfast scramble on flatbread

Decadent desserts! My favorite was the pb banana mousse (lower left corner)

For dinner on my actual birthday, Tom and I cooked up a delicious meal. Originally we had planned on having some kind of breaded and baked white fish with lemon garlic butter but the fish at Harris Teeter wasn't very attractive. We were also going to roast up some asparagus and top it with shaved Parm, but for some reason, my HT only stocks the very thin asparagus which is not so good for roasting. We played with the idea of a rack of lamb but HT only had one rack for almost $30!

Exhausted by the (lack of) possibilities, we settled on thick-cut pork chops in a rosemary white wine sauce, corn on the cob, and red-skinned potatoes with balsamic shallot butter. Turned out pretty tasty if I do say so myself:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Alternative Hummus

I was really looking forward to pita sandwiches with tuna and edamame. Much to my dismay, I was out of tuna! How does that happen? Isn't there one magical can of tuna that never leaves your cupboard? Anyway, having already cooked and shelled the edamame, I decided to make a "fake" hummus with a can of garbanzo beans, sesame oil, and loads of garlic. I also toasted up the pita bread for some quick pita chips. Doesn't look half bad, does it? Recipe follows.

Alternative Hummus

1/2 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup edamame, cooked and shelled
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs sesame oil
3-5 tbs warm water
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, crushed

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor, blending until smooth. Add more water as needed until the hummus has reached the desired consistency.

Quick Pita Chips

Cut pita bread into wedges. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes until golden and crispy.

Monday, July 21, 2008

More Feastyness

Oh yum, I love colorful food.

Peanut butter lime soba noodles with snap peas

Insalata Caprese

Prosciutto-wrapped cantaloupe

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Seasonal Cooking

I've been thinking lately about how different food is from season to season. Not only are different types of produce available, but cooking techniques also change. Baking and braising in the winter are replaced by sauteeing and grilling in the summer. I assume the rationale for this would be that one wishes to generate as little heat as possible in the kitchen during the hot days of summer, but do these seasonal cooking patterns apply to areas of the world where it is hot or cold year round?

My oven really does miss me though, and my stomach misses the plethora of baked goods that I would normally churn up in the winter. Cookies, brownies, bread... something about the cold winter months makes me want to fire up the oven and pull out my KitchenAid. Perhaps this weekend I'll make some bread. The NY Times no knead bread recipe is always satisfying, perhaps even more so because of the limited amount of work that goes into making it! I've also been craving popovers since tasting the hot, cheesy deliciousness that preceded our meal at BLT Steak a few weeks ago. I wonder if they would be as good in a muffin tin instead of a popover pan? Here's the recipe BLT Steak provided for their gruyere popovers:

BLT Steak Popovers (makes 12)

4 cups milk, warmed
8 eggs
4 cups flour
1 1/2 heaping tbsp salt
2 1/4 cups grated gruyere cheese
Popover pan

Place the popover pan in the oven. Heat the oven and the pan to 350 degrees.
Gently warm the milk over low heat and set aside.
Whisk the eggs until frothy and slowly whisk in the milk (so as not to cook the eggs). Set the mixture aside.
Sift the flour with the salt. Slowly add this dry mixture to the wet mixture and gently combine until mostly smooth.
Once combined, remove the popover pan from the oven and spray with nonstick vegetable spray. While the batter is still slightly warm or room temperature (definitely not cool), fill each popover cup 3/4 full.
Top each popover with approximately 2 1/2 tbsp of the grated gruyere.
Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes, rotating pan half a turn after 15 minutes of baking.
Remove from the oven, remove from the pan and serve immediately.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Visual Feast

It's been a while since I've updated. To get myself back into the swing of things, here are pictures of some of my more colorful creations over the past year. Apologies for the occasionally poor photo quality!

very red-tinted lasagna

strawberry shortcake for a coworker's birthday

shrimp fettucine with garlic rosemary twists

parmesan tilapia with green beans and roasted tomatoes

stuffed pattypan squash

sausage and butternut squash over couscous

mashed purple sweet potatoes and taro spring rolls

cheesy quickbread

salmon cakes over couscous


paper-wrapped sponge cakes

lo mein

sausage mushroom pasta

key lime pie

broiled tilapia and salad with yogurt dressing

chicken red curry with coconut and lime

orzo stuffed peppers