Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Banana Blueberry Lemon Muffins

Last night I made Banana Blueberry Lemon Muffins for my office's bake sale as part of Week of Caring/Community Support month. I used the recipe from Dragon's Kitchen and made some adjustment (added one more banana and blueberry) because I wanted the muffins to be lighter and more fruity. In addition to the muffins, I also made our Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies - we refrigerated the dough for 24 hours for better texture and more concentrated flavor.

2 1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs
2/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon lemon juice
10 oz blueberries
2 tablespoons grated lemon rind
3 tablespoons raw sugar

  • Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly grease muffin tin.
  • Combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and lemon rind.
  • Beat together bananas, eggs, brown sugar, butter, lemon juice and vanilla until blended.
  • Stir in dry ingredients until blended. Stir in blueberries just until combined. Spoon into prepared muffin cups, dividing batter equally.
  • Sprinkle the raw sugar evenly over the muffins.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thai Coconut Chicken Soup

The San Francisco weather has been so strange lately. One day, it's above 80F and sunny... and then it'd be cold, windy and in the 50's next day. It's totally affecting my appetite and what I'm craving for. This Thai Coconut Chicken Soup is a versatile dish that can be eaten during warm or cold weather. The light coconut milk broth with hints of lemon grass and galangal would cool you down and the spiced chillies would warm you up. I love sitting on my couch and slurping this delicious soup while watching campy TV shows or movies.

Note: You might be able to find Galangal in Asian groceries. It's a relative to Ginger root but tastes different and more fragrant. If you can't find it, according to some websites, you can substitute it with ginger and some lime juice.

1 lb boneless and skinless chicken breast or thighs, cut in strips
1 lb red potatoes, cut into quarter
1 can of straw mushrooms
3 cups of coconut milk
1.5 cups of water
2 stalks of lemon grass (cut into 3-inch lengths and pounded)
6 kaffir lime leaves (lightly bruised to release the flavor)
6 slices galangal
5 dried red chillies, seeded and soaked with water
5 tablespoons fish sauce
juice of half lime
2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

  • Stir fry the onion with a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large heavy bottomed pot for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the lemon grass, galangal, dried chillies, kaffir lime leaves and stir fry for a few more minutes until fragrant.
  • Add coconut milk and water into the pot and bring it to boil.
  • Add the potatoes and bring to boil again.
  • Add straw mushrooms and chicken and boil it on medium heat for a few minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Add lime juice and fish sauce to taste.
  • Add chopped cilantro before serving.

Greek Bread Salad (Panzanella)

Lisa & Aaron invited us to their place for a dinner party last Saturday. Since Lisa is a very good cook, I thought I should make something delicious and tasty but not too complicated for me to follow (I had hungover from the night before) - so I went through Barefoot Contessa recipes online and found this yummy looking Greek Panzanella. This dish has a nice Greek twist with the addition of olives and feta cheese and it's easy to make to.

The menu:

Pre-dinner snack:

Greek Panzanella:

Super-moist Roast Pork Loin:

Farmer's Market roasted baby squash and red potatoes:

Thanks for a lovely dinner, Lisa! Next time, it's our turn to have you guys over for a mellow Saturday night dinner. Or we can just do an all out sushi dinner while we're in Tokyo. =)

Here is the recipe of the Greek Bread Salad from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa... Enjoy!

Good olive oil
1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
Kosher salt
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 red bell pepper, large diced
1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion, sliced in half rounds
1/2 pound feta cheese, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup calamata olives, pitted

For the vinaigrette:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup good red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good olive oil

  • Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread cubes and sprinkle with salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 5 to 10 minutes, until nicely browned. Add more olive oil as needed.
  • Place the cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, tomatoes and red onion in a large bowl.
  • For the vinaigrette, whisk together the garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper in a small bowl. While still whisking, add the olive oil and make an emulsion. Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables.
  • Add the feta, olives and bread cubes and mix together lightly.
  • Set aside for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend.
  • Serve at room temperature.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Herb-Marinated Pork Loin

After watching Ina Garten's show on Herb-Marinated Pork Tenderloins last Saturday, I knew that I had to make it one of this week because it looks so good and simple to make. I marinated the meat for 48 hours before cooking it and served it over a side of salad and couscous. Simple delicious and healthy dinner!

3 lb boneless pork loin (or tenderloin)
2 lemons, zest grated
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from the 2 lemons)
1/4 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, mustard, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper in a sturdy 1-gallon resealable plastic bag.
  • Add the pork loins and turn to coat with marinade. Squeeze out the air and seal the bag.
  • Marinate the pork in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight (I marinated mine for 2 nights).
  • Preheat the oven to 400F.
  • Remove the pork loins from the marinade and discard the marinade but leave the herbs that cling to the meat. Sprinkle the pork loins generously with salt and pepper.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large oven-proof saute pan over medium high heat.
  • Sear the pork loins on all sides until golden brown (approximately 4 minutes on each side).
  • Place the saute pan in the oven and roast the loins for approximately 15 minutes until the meat registers 137F at the thickest part.
  • Transfer the pork loins to a platter and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Carve in 1/2-inch-thick diagonal slices. The thickest part of the tenderloin will be quite pink (it's just fine!) and the thinnest part will be well done.
  • Season with salt and pepper and serve warm, or at room temperature with the juices that collect in the platter.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Leek, Zucchini and Potato Gratin

After having Mac and Cheese last week, I was still craving something rich, creamy and cheesy this weekend. Not sure why... since the San Francisco weather had been so warm lately. So I decided to make Leek, Zucchini and Potato Gratin because I wanted to make something 'healthier' than just plain Potato Gratin. However, I'm pretty much sure that by drenching everything with half-and-half and 2 types of cheese totally defeat the original intend of being healthy.

I followed Not Quite Nigella's recipe of Creamy Potato and Zucchini Gratin and added leeks, more seasonings, cheese and breadcrumbs.


2 lb yukon gold potatoes, thinly sliced
2 zucchini, thinly sliced
2 leeks, shredded
1 cup half and half
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon red chili powder
4 oz sharp white cheddar, shredded
4 oz Swiss cheese, shredded
1/4 cup breadcrumbs

  • Preheat the oven to 400F and butter a 9x13 baking pan.
  • Saute the leeks with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot for 5 minutes. Set aside.
  • In the same pot, add in the potato slices, milk, half-and-half, herbs and seasonings and cook over high heat until boiling then turn down to low so that it just barely simmers. Cook until tender (approximately 10 minutes).
  • Add in the zucchini slices, cook for another couple of minutes.
  • Transfer the mixture to the buttered pan, sprinkle with the shredded cheese and breadcrumbs.
  • Bake in the oven for 25 minutes until the top becomes evenly golden.
  • Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Heart of the City Farmer's Market

I am not really sure what to think of the Heart of the City Farmer's Market. It has great produce like the Ferry Building Farmer's Market but much more affordable (2 whole bags for less than $10!) The only downfall is the smelly crack heads walking around so it's hard to enjoy yourself. If you have not been, I encourage you to go and check it out – just be prepared and bring Purell!

Grown Up Mac and Triple Cheese

My take on Ina Garten's Grown Up Mac and Cheese. It's easy to make although it's darn hard to take a picture of since I didn't bake it in a cute gratin dishes.

1 lb fusilli pasta, cook according to instruction, al dente
1.5 cup of broccoli, blanch for 1 minute
4 oz sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
4 oz swiss cheese, shredded
2 oz blue cheese, crumbled
1 onion, roughly chopped
1/2 lb of ham, cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of flour
1.5 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1.5 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup bread crumbs

  • Preheat the oven to 400F and butter a 9x13 inch baking pan.
  • Saute the onion in a small pan over low heat for 10 minutes until caramelize.
  • Add in the chopped ham and cook for another 5 minutes. Set aside.
  • In a large pot pan, melt the butter over low heat and add the flour. Continue cooking for 2-3 minutes stirring with a whisk.
  • While whisking, add the milk and cook for a minute or 2 more until thickened and smooth.
  • Remove the pan off the heat, add the Blue, Cheddar and Swiss cheese along with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
  • Add in the pasta, broccoli, ham and onion and mix well.
  • Pour into the prepared pan and sprinkle the bread crumb on top.
  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the pasta is browned on top.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Chicken with Dry Red Pepper

A quick and simple chicken stir fry dish using the ingredients that I've already had in my fridge.


1 lb chicken thigh meat
1 eggplant, cut into medium-sized cubes
1 cup of shredded carrots
10 dry red pepper (seeded and rinse)
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
3 green onion, cut into 2" length
3.5 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1.5 tablespoon sugar
1.5 tablespoon rice wine
1/2 salt
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1.5 teaspoon cornstarch, dissolved in 3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 cup chopped cashew

  • Cut the chicken meat into 1" cubes and marinate with 1 tablespoon each of soy sauce, cornstarch and oil for at least 30 minutes.
  • Heat 1/2 cup of oil in a wok, stir fry the chicken meat for a couple of minutes or so over high heat and then set aside.
  • Saute dry pepper in the wok over medium heat with 2 tablespoon of oil until fragrant.
  • Add in ginger, garlic and green onion; continue to stir fry for another minute.
  • Add the chicken meat back to the wok, along with eggplants and shredded carrots; cook for another 5 minutes or so and then add the rest of the seasoning sauce.
  • Stir until thicken and heated thoroughly.
  • Remove, add some chopped cashew and serve hot over rice.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Carrot Cake for My 100th Post

Yeah... it's my 100th post, I'm so excited! After thinking carefully, I decided to celebrate this occasion by baking a Carrot Cake. Since I have never baked a cake before, I used Pastry Pal's recipe because she always has great step-by-step instructions and useful tips.

One cake done, another to go

Stacking the cake layers together

Smothering the cake with some frosting

Completely frosted. Voila!

Tomorrow is my sister's birthday so I'm dedicating this cake for her. Although she doesn't live nearby, I thought it would be a nice to send her some pictures of the cake so she can salivate over them. Happy Birthday, Irene!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Jim Lahey's No-Work Bread

This is my 99th entry (posted on 09/09/09 ... trippy!). I finally made my first bread using yeast. Since baking is not really my strength, I decided to try out Jim Lahey's No-Work Bread (from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything) because it doesn't require much kneading or fancy gadgets.

To make this bread, you have to be very patient and start early because it needs 18 to 24 hour for the dough to rest. After that, the steps are pretty simple and, as you can see from the picture below, the bread turned out with a beautiful crust and moist inside!

4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups water at about 70F
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • Combine the flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl.
  • Add the water and stir until blended.
  • Put the olive oil in a second bowl, transfer the dough to that, turn to coat with oil, cover with plastic wrap.
  • Let the dough rest for 18 to 24 hours at about 70F.
  • The dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles.
  • Lightly flour a work surface, remove the dough and fold once or twice.
  • Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for about 15 minutes.
  • Using the just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking, gently and quickly shape the dough into a ball.
  • Generously coat a silicone baking mat with cornmeal, put the dough seam side down and dust with more cornmeal.
  • Cover with a plastic wrap and let rise for 2 hours.
  • At least half hour before the dough is ready, heat the oven to 450F and put a 3- or 4-quart enamel pot with its cover in the oven as it heats.
  • When the dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven and turn the dough over into the pot, seam side up.
  • Cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes.
  • Then remove the lid and bake for another 20 minutes.
  • Remove the bread with a spatula or tongs to a cooling rack.
  • Cool for a least 30 minutes before slicing.
Now I need to start thinking about what to do for my 100th entry. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


One of my favorite dishes growing up in Indonesia was Galantine. The Indonesian version is different from the French version's of de-boned stuffed poultry meat poached and served cold, coated with aspic. Ours is more like a meat rolade with hard-boiled eggs inside. I made mine using a mix of ground pork, ground chicken and liver paste and, for extra kick, I added fried shallots into the mixture. It turned out well and as good as what I had back home.

1 lb of ground pork
1 lb of ground chicken
1 can of liver paste (~120gr)
6 tablespoons of bread crumbs
4 tablespoons of sweet condensed milk
1/4 cup of fried shallots
3 eggs
1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons of salt
2 teaspoons of pepper
5 hard-boiled eggs
wax paper

  • Mix the ground meats, liver paste, bread crumbs, milk, shallots, eggs, nutmeg, salt and pepper well in a food processor.
  • Lay out the wax paper on a table, put about a third of the meat mixture on the middle of it to cover about half of the wax paper.
  • Arrange the hard-boiled eggs on top of the meat mixture and top the eggs with the rest of the meat mixture so it resembles a log.
  • Roll the wax paper to enclose the meat & egg log.
  • Steam the galantine for 25 minutes.
  • After it cools off, open the wax paper and serve the galantine with the tomato sauce.

Tomato Sauce

3 ripe tomatoes
5 tablespoons of tomato ketchup
5 shallots, finely diced
1 tablespoon of butter
2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon of corn starch
salt and pepper to taste

  • Boil the tomatoes until they turn soft, drain saving 1 cup of the water used for boiling, cut the tomatoes into chunks.
  • Fry the shallots using the butter over low medium heat in a medium pan.
  • Increase the heat to medium and add tomato chunks, 1 cup of the tomato water, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Continue cooking until it boils.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and let cool down a little bit before blending in a food processor into a smooth consistency.
  • Strain the tomato mixture before returning to the pan.
  • Cook over medium low heat.
  • In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch using cold water.
  • Add into the pan, stir and continue cooking until it boils again.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Mi Lindo Yucatan

Today, Porgy and I went to Mi Lindo Yucatan in the Mission District. I've been wanting to try it out because I heard good things about it. Since we were not too hungry, we decided to get an appetizer sampler to share, chicken soup and soursop horcata. My Mom usually makes me fresh soursop juice when I go home so having soursop horcata totally brought back memories of home. I really enjoyed my mid afternoon snack at this place - good food, very reasonably price, friendly staff who is proud of the food that she's serving. I will definitely come back here again to try out their other dishes.

Platillo "Mi Lindo Yucatan", a combination platter with Tamales, Panuchos, Salbutes, Flautas, Chilindrinas, Empanadas and Polcanes.

  • Tamales: Corn meal dough stuffed with chicken mixed with traditional yucatecan sauce, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed
  • Panuchos: Fried home made tortilla stuffed with black bean puree. Topped with grilled chicken, cabbage, tomato, pickled red onions and avocado.
  • Salbutes: Fried tortilla puffs topped with grilled chicken, lettuce, fresh tomatoes, pickled red onions and avocado.
  • Flautas: Fried taquitos stuffed with chicken. Served with tomatillo sauce, sour cream and crumbled queso fresco.
  • Chilindrinas: Crisp tortilla packets with hard boiled eggs and spinach. Served with tomato sauce and cheese.
  • Empanadas: Corn dough stuffed with ground beef and topped with tomato sauce.
  • Polcanes: Corn meal dumplings stuffed with a mixture of lima beans and crushed pumpkin seeds. Served with pickled red onions.
Sopa del Dia, chicken soup with pickled red onion and cabbage.

FYI, taking pictures using iPhone in this restaurant is a bit tricky because the restaurant wall is bright lime green with some turquoise-hint color. I had to photoshop the pictures to balance the colors. Next time I go there, I'll make sure to bring a digital camera!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sweet and Sour Spareribs

I finally dusted off my Chinese food recipe collection this weekend. I don't usually cook Chinese food that often because I think that they're too complicated for me. However, this Sweet and Sour Spareribs recipe seems pretty simple enough for me to follow and it looks so delicious because it's not like those sweet and sour dishes in Chinese Restaurant.

1.5 lb of pork spareribs
1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
2 tablespoons of rice wine
3 tablespoons of sugar
3 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce
5 tablespoons of water
4 slices of ginger root
4 stalks of green onion

  • Wash and cut spareribs into 3 inches long each.
  • Boil the spareribs in pan filled enough water to cover them.
  • Remove the meat when the water boils.
  • Drain the spareribs well.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok and stir fry the ginger until fragrant.
  • Pour all the seasonings, green onions and spareribs into the wok, bring to boil.
  • Cover with lid and cook over low heat until the sauce almost gone (approximately 30 minutes), turning the ribs to baste from time to time.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Spicy Eggplant Balado

This is my take on Egg Balado - an Indonesian dish of fried eggs with spicy chili sauce. Since I'm trying to be healthier, I decided to use eggplants instead of eggs. It turned out really well because the eggplants soak up the sauce.

1 Eggplant, cut into medium-sized cubes
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped (OR 3 shallots, finely diced)
20 cherry tomatoes, halved (OR 3 tomatoes, chopped)
1 .5 tablespoons of Sambal Oelek
2 tablespoons of sweet soy sauce
3 teaspoons of sugar
2 teaspoons of salt

  • Mix the Sambal Oelek, sweet soy sauce, sugar and salt in a bowl.
  • Stir fry the onion in a pan with olive oil.
  • Add in the chili paste, stir.
  • Add in the eggplant cubes and stir until eggplant is soft but not too soft (mushy).
  • You can add fried eggs or hard boiled eggs on top when serving.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Porgy's Caprese Pasta Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

On an extremely rare occasion and if the stars and moon are aligned, Porgy will actually make dinner. After watching Mostly Martha, a German romantic comedy all about food, he was craving pasta and decided to make Caprese Pasta Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette -- recipe from the Cooking Photographer. It looks simple enough but it took him forever since he barely knows how to cut parsley. However, it turned out refreshing and perfect for summer. Good job Porgy!

Lemon Vinaigrette

2 teaspoons finely grated lemons zest
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 garlic cloves, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more if needed to wet pasta

1 pound of fusilli pasta
1 pound diced ripe tomatoes
16 ounce tub fresh mozzarella pearls, drained
Lemon vinaigrette
Lots of fresh basil, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

  • Blend the lemon zest and juice, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper in a blender.
  • With the machine running gradually blend in the oil.
  • Season the vinaigrette to taste with more salt and pepper.
  • Cook the pasta according to the package direction, al dente, drain and rinse with cold water.
  • Move the pasta to a large serving bowl and toss together with the rest of the ingredients.
  • Top with grated pecorino cheese.

Raisin Scones

This past weekend, I decided to try out a scone recipe from Pastry Pal because it called for 2 cups of heavy whipping cream. The other scone recipe that I tried before never called for that much cream. I pretty much followed her recipe and directions, except that I added zest from 1 lemon. I finally bought a dough cutter per her suggestion to mix the butter and flour and found that it's so much easier than using a wire whisk. Thanks Irina.

We have been enjoying these moist and crumbly scones with daily espresso and lattes from our new Saeco coffee machine (we call her Sophia) every morning. Yum yum!

4 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, cut up into small pieces (i put mine in freezer after cutting to keep it cold)
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup golden raisins
zest of 1 lemon
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Toss the raisins and lemon zest with 1 tablespoon of the flour in a small bowl.
  • Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
  • Mix the butter cubes into the flour mix with a dough cutter.
  • Pour in the heavy cream and mix a little bit (but do not over mix).
  • Add in the raisins and lemon zest and mix with a wooden spoon (or spatula) carefully.
  • Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1.5" thickness.
  • Cut the dough in 12 equal pieces (mine was kind of free-from cuts, instead of nice and neat like hers).
  • In a small bowl, mix the egg with the milk for egg wash.
  • Brush the top of each scone with the egg wash and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar.
  • Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.
  • Cool for 5 minutes or so on the pan before transferring them on a cooling rack.
  • Enjoy!