Char siu fried rice & garlic honey eggplant

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I haven’t made fried rice in a while and was inspired this past Sunday afternoon as I was strolling through Chinatown. I went into my favorite to-go shop and got 1 lb. of char siu, chopped up. The fried rice was made loosely following Rasa Malaysia’s Chinese fried rice recipe with the following changes:

  • Substituted overnight fried rice with fresh cooked rice that was cooled down on a cookie sheet
  • Instead of all the crazy sauces, I just put 2 tbsp soy sauce and ½ tspn sugar
  • For veggies, I chopped up ½ lb of baby bok choy I had leftover from making wontons and ½ cup frozen vegetables blanched in boiling water
  • 1 lb of bite size char siu, fat removed

My favorite part of the Rasa Malaysia recipe is the “egg well” that produces the perfect, fluffy, bite sized pieces of egg in the fried rice. With all my ingredients, my fried rice was pretty delicious and I made enough for leftovers and lunches this week.

The stuff surrounding the fried rice is garlic and honey glazed egg plant. I salted the eggplant slices and let them dehydrate on a paper towel for 15 minutes – this is important because it reduces the water content of the egg plant and also removes some of the bitter flavor. Next, I brushed the eggplant lightly with honey and sauteed them in olive oil that had slices of garlic. This imparted a nice sweet and garlicky flavor to the eggplant and was healthy!

Vegetable soup for the sick

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Since I’ve been eating a B.R.A.T. (bananas, rice, apple sauce, dry toast) diet for almost a week now and felt a bit better last night, I attempted to have some canned chicken noodle soup. That didn’t sit well with my stomach and I had another miserable day.

My doctor told me it was because canned soups are high in fat and sodium, as well as preservatives, which my body wasn’t ready for after a bland diet. I needed to eat greaseless foods that were gentle to my stomach, but offered nutritional value, so I decided to make a vegetable soup with chicken. Ingredients:

  • 1 quart fat free, low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 2lb Napa cabbage, cut into 1" strips
  • 3 carrots, cut
  • 1 large zucchini, cut
  • about 6 oz. pasta, cooked according to instructions and then left to soak in the hot pasta water [note: I added pasta because I need carbs in my diet]
  • 1 chicken breast, cubed and poached [note: added for protein]

I didn’t sautee the vegetables or add any seasonings at all – just threw in the veggies with the simmering liquids for 30 minutes. It’s important to leave the cooked pasta in the cooking water so it will soak up as much water as it needs and not soak up the soup liquids when you add it. Also, poached chicken breast was important to my diet since I hadn’t eaten any protein in days, but was still sensitive to fats.

After eating the delicious soup, I feel better. This is a good introduction back to food after being so sick I couldn’t eat.

Miso eggplant

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Inspired by the cheapness of eggplants at the market, I decided to try my hand at miso eggplant from this recipe. Everything was fine, except the following changes:

  • 2 cups of miso mix for 4 eggplants? No way. I didn’t know what to do with 2 whole cups of the miso mix and decided to distribute it evenly over the eggplants. WAY TOO SALTY. Ended up scraping off the excess miso and eating the eggplant with a touch of the miso. I would suggest half the miso mix or double the eggplants next time.
  • Pan seared the eggplants in a sautee pan first, instead of broiling them pre-miso basting.

I’d make this again, maybe even with different vegetables like zucchini.

A Christmas lamb & mushroom orzo

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My family has a traditional “special” meal during holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, which usually consists of seafood. This year, we decided to have a go at boneless leg of lamb since the demo station at Costco had excellent samples. They had a very simple recipe – sauteed cubes of lamb with Montreal steak seasoning. We bought the smallest leg we could find – 3.5 lbs for $15.

Montreal steak seasoning was one of those items we didn’t want to buy because we’d never use it again, so I decided to make my own since we had all the spices in the house. Some seasoning, olive oil and soy sauce made a delicious marinade. Most of the effort was in cutting up the leg of lamb and removing all the fat.

The marinaded cubes of lamb were sauteed in a wok over medium heat for ~10 mins until they were medium. Delicious, especially paired with my favorite mushroom orzo! I was pretty proud of my holiday meal, especially since this was the first complete meal I had made for my family.

Buttermilk waffles & variations

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The most used kitchen appliance in my house, next to the stove, is the waffle iron. My roommate loves to mass make waffle batter, store it in a container in the fridge and have fresh waffles every morning. Over Christmas, I made buttermilk waffles twice from Cook’s Illustrated “The Best Buttermilk Waffles” recipe. I prefer to make waffles ahead of time and then pop them in the toaster for an extra crispy exterior the morning I eat them.

Waffle variations are pretty easy to make. To finish off the carton of buttermilk, I made a second batch of waffles with blueberries. Delicious, but hellish to clean off

Chicken tikka masala with potatoes

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My favorite Indian dish is tikka masala because I love rich, creamy foods that have a hint of spice. When I moved to San Francisco, the Costco’s in the area started carrying Maya Kaimal Indian sauces, which included a quart of tikka masala. Most recently, they renamed it to butter masala. Still the same sauce though.

The tikka masala is very easy to prepare – start some rice in the rice cooker, boil some potatoes until they are soft, lightly sautee some chicken until it is half cooked, pour in the tikka masala sauce and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is thicker.

I used baby russet potatoes which have a soft, creamy texture that mixes well with the chicken and rice. A quick meal after work!

Frosted Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

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Dark chocolate cupcakes from recipe, with no changes. I follow Cooks Illustrated almost religiously; they have never done me wrong with a recipe. It’s worth the $35/year subscription.

The batter came out with the consistency of chocolate mousse and I wanted to eat it right then!

Frosted using Wilton Star Tip #1M. I’ve never used the star tip before, but I was inspired by the cupcakes I see at cupcakeries with the huge mound of frosting swirled in the middle. I’m not a fan of too much frosting to cover up the taste of a cupcake, especially considering the quality ingredients that went into this cupcake. The frosting is a faint pale pink because I accidentally dropped a drop magenta food coloring into the frosting.