Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"Everything Should Taste Like Bacon"

Ahh, bacon. I don't know a carnivore who doesn't love bacon. And what's a carnivore to do when there isn't any bacon in the fridge (if such a travesty should occur)? Why, open up the pantry and find J&D's Bacon Salt!

It's actually 100% vegetarian, but tastes a 100% like the bacon we love. It's love in a jar. And what do I do with love in a jar? I sprinkle it on chicken, baked potatoes, salads, creamy tomato soups, potato soups, and:

Bacon deviled eggs! These aren't your momma's deviled eggs. These are loaded with Bacon Salt, Baconnaise (for extra bacon goodness), horseradish, paprika, and a few splashes of hot sauce (for extra kick).

I've made them countless times now and they're always a hit. Do you know why? Because almost everyone I know loves bacon, and everything should taste like it. Thanks to Bacon Salt and Baconnaise, everything can. Look for it at your local grocery. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Weekend Breakfast

If time allows and I'm properly caffeinated, I'll make a nice breakfast on the weekend.

This one's pretty simple actually, but elegant enough to serve to guests (if you're that type of person who has guests over for breakfast, which I'm not. Maybe brunch, for which this dish would also be appropriate). It's toasted french bread slathered with fresh, soft goat cheese, topped with soft-cooked scrambled eggs and drizzled with fresh pesto.

The only stovetop cooking here is the scrambled eggs. There's no real recipe here, except for the pesto. And if the pesto is made in advance (a pesto post to follow), the dish is super-easy to prepare.

One trick: be sure the goat cheese is at room temperature so that it spreads easily onto the toast. It also helps to keep the cheese-slathered-toast warm in the oven while the eggs are scrambling. The warm cheese-slathered-toast (I really like the word "slathered") will accept the eggs and help keep them warm while you're eating.

I put the pesto in a small plastic zipper bag to "pipe" onto the eggs. It distributes more easily than trying to spoon the thick sauce over the top.

This is a nice way to start the day.

Don't forget the coffee.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dining Out #1: Shabu Shabu

I haven't had much of a chance to cook this past week, so I bring you my first post about dining out. I spent the last weekend with my boyfriend (herein referred to as The BF) in Portland to eat, relax, and shop at Powell's, where we picked up more than a few guidebooks to aid our upcoming vacation in Tokyo.

We're more than excited about visiting Tokyo for the first time. We want to learn more about Japanese culture and food. In Portland, we found a little Japanese restaurant called the Hot Pot 'n Sushi. They serve fresh sushi on a conveyer belt and the patrons can select what they want and grab it off the belt and gobble it up.

We decided to go for the Shabu Shabu, which translates to "swish swish" in Japanese. For those unfamiliar, it's a fondue of sorts (hence the name Hot Pot). Instead of cheese, the Japanese use broth. it goes like this: there's an electric burner in the middle of the table where a stock pot is placed. It's filled with hot broth, usually seasoned with bonito flakes. There are also bowls filled with raw veggies, mushrooms, udon noodles and meats.

The diners cook the goodies in the hot broth, scoop them into their bowls, and then slurp it up while trying not to burn their mouths. The broth gets increasingly more flavorful as more goodies swish around in it. There are also dipping sauces provided: usually a ponzu sauce for the veggies and a saltier soy-based sauce for the meats.

This was the first time I've had a hot-pot style dining out. It's a fun way to dine.

Growing up with Chinese parents, we had our version of hot pot at home as well. On special occasions, my parents brought out the electric wok, filled it with broth, and we cooked up seafood and Chinese bean thread noodles on our dining table. Scallops, shrimp, oysters, clams and mussels would get cooked in the broth and dipped into a salty mixture of green onion and ginger. Yummy!

The Japanese version isn't much different from what I'm used to. Though the typical ingredients are different, the method is the same. And it was a great American introduction to Japanese cuisine that wasn't just about sushi or teriyaki. We're looking forward to exploring more.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Welcome to my blog! What better day to start one than on Chinese New Year (which happens to coincide with Valentine's day this year; how lucky for those who celebrate both). This will be the place where I share my love of food: from what I'm cooking at home, to what I'm eating when I'm out and about.

About me: my love for food is inherent. My parents opened a Chinese restaurant when I was in gradeschool. My dad was the head cook, and my mom ran the front end. My mom was (and still is) an excellent cook, too. I spent most of my childhood there, usually hiding underneath the cash register counter, at my mother's feet full-time.

And by full-time, I don't mean 40-hour work weeks like a most people work. I mean full-time in the restaurant biz, which for us meant 7 days a week, 12 hours a day. When not in school, I was in the restaurant. During this time I was lucky enough to have really good food all of the time. I still remember preparing some of the food: pork wonton dumplings, pork and vegetable egg rolls, beef skewers, and foil-wrapped chicken, among other typical Chinese dishes.

The year I went away to college was the year my parents decided to close the restaurant for good.

It wasn't until I was a couple years into my first job as a graphic designer that I rekindled my love for food. I discovered that I'm a natural cook. I cooked for friends and coworkers, and they'd always ask for more.

I also discovered that I really missed my parent's home cooking. Shark fin soup, steamed pork, soy sauce fish, fresh veggies, rice porridge (jook!) and endless stir-frys were just out of reach. Looking back, I regret not really paying attention when my parents cooked in the kitchen. I never gave it a second thought; food just magically appeared on the table. Now, when visiting my family every year, I pay attention to what they're doing in their kitchen, in hopes that my hands can recreate their magic in my own kitchen.

Speaking of kitchens! Mine is tiny. I call it a one-butt kitchen (as in, only one person can fit in there at a time). I live in a Shoebox! The landlord calls it a studio apartment.

I could probably move into a bigger apartment with a bigger kitchen, but I choose not to. I see the small space as a challenge to live with less. I'm within walking-distance to a grocery store and a ton of local eateries I've yet to explore.

So! Join me in my kitchen (and while I'm dining out) and share your love of food with me. I'm looking forward to the gastronomic journey. Below is a photo of some jook that I made. It's a hot, comforting bowl of rice porridge seasoned with salt pork, cooked slowly with ginger, garlic, shallots, chicken broth, and of course rice. To me, this is home.

Gung Hay Fat Choy! Much prosperity to you and yours.