Breakfast

Duck Prosciutto Egg Cups

I’m so lucky to have a year-round farmers market walking distance from my house. I’m there every week as a volunteer, and am pretty familiar with the product offerings. We have sorts of interesting items that aren’t on the average American’s shopping list: Moroccan M’smen, veal, hake, lard, creamed honey, and more. But even I fall into food ruts a lot, despite the more exotic options available to me.

I’ve decided to branch out and buy foods I’ve never prepared before. I started with duck prosciutto. It comes as one big slab with a thick layer of fat (which I, naturally, left on). The first morning, I diced some up and cooked them with creamy scrambled eggs. Yum.

The next morning, I thought I’d do duck prosciutto and eggs again, but give it a little twist. I’ve seen recipes for bacon and egg cups baked in a muffin tin before, so I decided to recreate something similar. Duck Prosciutto Egg Cups were born.

I don’t have a mandoline or any easy way to cut those ultra thin slices of prosciutto we often see, so I took a knife and carefully skimmed the top of my slab. They weren’t perfect but they were good enough. I greased and lined the cups of a muffin tin with prosciutto, grated some parmesan into each cup, and cracked an egg into each one.

I baked them for about 12 minutes and ta-daa! I had duck prosciutto cups. I topped them black pepper and fresh basil. What a decadent breakfast.

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Health and Nutrition

Food for Thought: Letting Food be Thy Medecine

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”
― Hippocrates

I’m always slightly amused when I hear that eating food to prevent or to cure illness is some new crazy idea that only doctors who are on the cutting edge believe in. Or when nutritionists who talk about real foods and not just manufactured micronutrients are considered “holistic”. I’m certainly no scientist so maybe I don’t have any credibility to talk about this, but why are we making common sense sound like a new-agey fad? So many illnesses and diseases stem from unhealthy diets, it’s only logical that reversing an unhealthy diet will also help reverse sickness.

My personal experience is that I can see food’s very direct impact on my health and beauty. I swear, eating right and incorporating healthy fats into my diet has done so much more for my skin and hair than any cosmetic product. When I’m eating unprocessed, balanced meals, I have good sustained energy, a good mood, and my skin looks flawless. When that balance is out of whack, I see signs of inflammation in my skin, I’m irritable, and just don’t feel right. If I eat too much sugar and not enough nutritious foods, my immune system is weakened and I get sick easily. Likewise, eating nutritious meals, avoiding sugar, and getting plenty of rest is a much more efficient cure than anything I can get on the shelves of a pharmacy when I get sick. I occasionally take supplements as a back up plan but they will never take the place of real food. Nutrition works in a way that is so much more complex than what our level of science in this area can explain; we can’t trick ourselves into thinking a few pills each day can do the same job as a plate of salmon and fresh vegetables.

So how is something so simple and straightforward, that Hippocrates knew in Ancient Greece, totally lost on people now? Something to think about on a Monday morning. I want to hear your thoughts. Can food be your medicine? Do you see its direct impact?

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The blog

Vacation Time

Hey, guys! Just wanted to drop a quick post and let you know that you may not be hearing too much from me for the next week and a half, aside from a few pre-scheduled posts. I am super, super excited because I am going on vacation! I’ll be in Los Angeles for Memorial Day weekend, coming back home for a few days, and then heading to a beach resort in the Caribbean the following week. It’s totally excessive to do two back-to-back trips but trust me, it’s a MUCH needed double vacation. What a great way to start Summer 2012.

Have a lovely Memorial Day Weekend, and please leave a comment if you have any suggestions for what to do/see/eat/drink in LA!

Bonus: Pictured above is my new favorite drink. All you need to do is muddle a few berries (I used blackberries) with a few mint leaves in seltzer, squeeze some lemon or lime juice in there, and throw in a couple of ice cubes. A light, refreshing drink that requires barely any effort! Spiking it with vodka is highly recommended.

 

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Lunch and Dinner

Making a Vegan Dinner. By Accident.

So, I made a vegan dish…wait, don’t leave! Please! Trust me. This is a good one. You’ll want to stick around to hear about it.

I saw this recipe for Braised Coconut Spinach & Chickpeas with Lemon on The Kitchn back when it was still winter. Their photography is of course a lot better than mine, and I remember almost drooling on myself looking at those images. I never got around to making it. So when my vegetarian girl roomie (not to be confused with the boy roomie who just learned how to use a microwave) suggested we do dinner at home, I had just the recipe. It had been raining for three days straight so it was the perfect comfort food.

It’s such a simple and quick recipe but the flavors come together is this amazing tangy, tropical way, making the sauce taste so much more complex than it is. It was crazy delicious. We were enjoying the dish served over baked sweet potatoes along with a couple of glasses of wine when my roomie pointed out “hey, isn’t this vegan?” Why yes, yes it is. I’m a little weird about “vegan” food sometimes and believe a recipe should never have the word “vegan” in its title if you want people to make it, as it implies (to me, at least) that it’s a lesser version of something that’s not supposed to be vegan.

This is how you do vegan, people. Letting real, tasty food come together and letting it shine for what it is, rather than trying to adapt a non-vegan dish to contain no animal products. This Braised Coconut Spinach & Chickpeas with Lemon dish is really good to the tastes buds, but also really good for you. It’s a such a healthy, balanced meal if you think about it–you’ve got plenty of veggies from different families, protein, fat, and no grains. It makes me so happy when delicious food is also super healthy. It’s like a freebie from the heavens that shouldn’t exist! So if you ever have a vegan coming over for dinner, you know what to whip up.

Totally making this again soon. But next time, dumping some Sriracha sauce in there too. Awww yeah.

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Veggies

Miso + Asparagus + Oven = Magic

Can we talk about my new obsession for just a bit? You may have seen it in last week’s post next to my detox burgers. I usually like posting about complete meals rather than side dishes, because it’s not very helpful if you’re looking for dinner inspiration. But this side dish…right now I just want to eat this all the time. With everything.

It came together rather randomly. I bought asparagus at the farmers market, not because I had any ideas what to do with it but I just ’cause I love eating asparagus (and the silly way it makes your pee smell!). When looking in my fridge, I noticed a ball of neglected miso paste my friend gave me ages ago to make a miso soup that never happened.

That suddenly reminded me that I saw a blog post back in March on Big Girls Small Kitchen. I was intrigued by the name “Miso-Roasted Asparagus”. I had all the ingredients on hand except white wine so I went ahead and made it! (Three bottles of red wine, but not a drop of white. Good job, Iris).

It was SO good. So good. My boyfriend said we should bottle the sauce and make millions. An obsession was born. I’m totally making this again tonight. It’s Spring, so go buy some fresh asparagus. Click on the recipe at Big Girls Small Kitchen. Make some miso-roasted asparagus. That is all.

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Lunch and Dinner

The Detox Burger: Not an Oxymoron!

It’s NY Burger Week and American Craft Beer Week. The Great GoogaMooga Festival is happening this weekend. And on top of all of that, I am participating in a cook-off on Sunday, which mean two sets of 3-course meals. Yes, six courses. It’s going to be a few days of extreme indulgence.

So, last night the boyfriend and I wanted to detox a little before our food-laden weekend, but also still celebrate Burger Week. He came up with a brilliant plan: mushroom burgers.

I’ve had my share of veggie burgers, but never a mushroom burger. I made the first recipe for mushroom burgers that came up on my Google search. I’m not really into packaged, manufactured bread so I wasn’t feeling the burger bun idea. I whipped up some 10-Minute Buttermilk Biscuits instead. I marinated the portobello caps using fresh basil leaves (apartment garden for the win) and cooked them on a grill pan. I topped the burgers with some grated parmesan, a few salad leaves, and served it up with a side of asparagus. And beer, naturally.

We sat on the balcony and enjoyed our detox burgers, and a bowl of roasted berries for dessert. A delicious, clean meal. Bring on the weekend. We’re ready.

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Lunch and Dinner

Making Kung Pao Chicken at Home: A GrubKit Review

I took a dumplings and wontons class with Diana Kaun from Appetite for China a couple of weeks ago. She told us she was putting together a Kung Pao Chicken Kit for a new service called GrubKit. Basically, you order a kit that consists of pre-measured non-perishable ingredients in just the right amounts, and a simple recipe. All you need to do is shop for a few fresh ingredients and whip up the meal in your kitchen. GrubKit basically meets you halfway–you’re still cooking your own food but they do some of the prep work. It sounded similar to a company that I’ve always wanted to try out from my hometown called Secret Ingredient, so I ordered Diana’s Kung Pao Chicken GrubKit.

My GrubKit arrived within a day or two in nice packaging.

As promised, all non-perishable ingredients were provided, measured-out and individually packaged.

The recipe is printed on a card along with cooking tips and your shopping list (in this case, just chicken, scallions, garlic, and ginger).

OK, confession. I’ve never actually had Kung Pao Chicken, ever. I really only know Cantonese cuisine and when I moved to the Sates, I kind of just assumed Kung Pao Chicken was some Chinese American take-out dish, like General Tso’s. But turns out this is indeed a classic dish in Sichuan cuisine. I may have nothing to compare my results with, but my guests and I found it to be delicious!

I enjoyed my GrubKit experience and am definitely open to trying it again. I think it’s a fantastic idea but definitely a little pricier than buying ingredients in bulk (duh). I paid a little over $20 including shipping, but still had to shop for fresh ingredients. Therefore, I think GrubKit is best in these two situations:

  1. If you don’t cook from scratch often, and hence really appreciate GrubKit’s prep work so you can save time and effort (not going to lie, it was pretty awesome not having to measure things out).
  2. If there’s a recipe you want to make and you can’t imagine using the ingredients often or don’t know where to find them. I happen to make Chinese food now and then so it probably would have been cheaper for me to make Kung Pao Chicken on my own, but for someone who wants to make it once but doesn’t want to buy bottles of peanut oil, hoisin sauce, etc that they will never use again, GrubKit really comes in handy.

Quick Notes

  • $3.95 flat shipping rate in the US, free shipping on 3 or more kits
  • Eco-friendly packaging
  • Ingredients are hand-selected with a focus on healthy and organic choices
  • It’s a small husband and wife operation in Brooklyn, NY. The wife is a food blogger.

GrubKit
http://www.grubkit.com
hello@grubkit.com
(347) 469-1290

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Growing Food

My Apartment Garden: Zucchini is King of the Seedlings

Time for another apartment garden update! Now that it’s definitely Spring and they’re all grown up, I moved my arugula and thyme to their new home on the balcony. Last Sunday I went to the farmers market and got some new additions to the garden: a new rosemary plant (the last one didn’t make it), basil, and a pot of daisies.

Is arugula supposed to grow this slowly? C’mon, guys. I need you to be salad size. So I can eat you. Maybe I need bigger pots for them.

Here’s basil photo-bombing the thyme and rosemary. Mmmm love fresh herbs.

I’ve kinda been on a Bones binge (underrated show), and now I can’t help but associate the word “daisy” with that super annoying character. Ugh. Anyway, these daisies are absolutely beautiful but I’ve had absolutely NO luck with the first two potted flowers I got. I have no idea how to take care of them. Any ideas, people?

Now for the indoor seedlings. At first I thought I’d skip the whole seed-buying when I decided to start growing food. I knew I wouldn’t be planting that many anyway, so I might as well let someone else do the work and just buy seedlings. But let me tell you it’s true what they say–starting from a seed is so much more rewarding. I get so excited when something green pops up one day where there used to be nothing. My strawberry seedling is still looking alive and well, but why so small? Maybe it’s time to move her to the Earthbox. I also started my tomato and zucchini since summer will be here soon and WOAH. They grew fast. Especially the zucchini. I mean it makes sense ’cause the seed was huge, but literally, in two days it was like BAM, here I am! (rock you like a hurricane…) King of the Seedlings.

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Breakfast

Mini Sweet Potato, Kale, and Egg Bake

I’m still learning the art of recipe adapting and substituting. To encourage people to start cooking, I always like reminding people how awful at cooking I was just two years ago, how far I’ve come, and how much more I need to learn. You learn from doing, messing up, and improving. You will get better at it. Trust me.

Running to the Kitchen is currently one of my favorite cooking blogs. I like that her stuff is healthy, not fussy, and tasty. And she’s a runner, holla. Her recipe for Kale and Feta Egg Bake has been my ultimate go-to recipe for a healthy, easy, and AMAZINGLY scrumptious dinner the past couple of months. (Go make it….now.) Last week Gina posted a recipe for Sweet Potato and Kale Bites that I thought I’d try.

I tried making it with a normal muffin tin as I don’t have a mini muffin tin, which the recipe calls for. I learned that I had to double the baking time, but still I’m not so sure if I got it right. Maybe a normal sized muffin tin is just too big to hold a clump of sweet potato together. (Suggestions, anyone?) But I topped a couple of them with eggs and baked them additional 10 minutes and the egg topped ones held together much better than the rest! Maybe the whites helped bind it all together.

Not the most mind-blowing thing I’ve ever made but tasty nonetheless. It’s a wonderful blend of flavors and I love dipping forkfuls of the sweet potato in runny egg yolk. It’s a super nutritious, easy to make breakfast. Until I get a mini muffin tin, I will be making these again and try tweak these mini egg bakes to perfection!

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Dessert

Surprise Birthday Cheesecake

Surprising roommates with baked goods is tough. I mean, a surprise involves the other party not knowing about something and given we share a kitchen, hiding the fact that I’m baking something is pretty hard. Like when I made surprise Valentines cookies, one of my roomies was sitting at the table. Next to the kitchen. Asking if he could eat the cookies I was making. Surprise fail.

But this time, he left the house for a few hours. I managed to bake a surprise birthday cheesecake for him while he was gone. He rarely ventures into the fridge for anything other than grabbing milk or beer (not at the same time of course), so I covered the cake in foil and stuck it at the back of the fridge.

OK, not very inconspicuous. But hey, it worked. He was surprised when I pulled it out the next day at our house party so he must not have snooped into the crazy shiny spaceship looking thing in the fridge.

This was my first time making cheesecake, and it turned out great! I used a Vanilla Cheesecake with Raspberry Sauce recipe but left out the raspberry sauce because I was serving it at a house party. Drunk people + sauce = more to clean up the next day. It was a hit. Everyone loves a good cheesecake. Just remember to follow the recipe and let the cake stand a while before serving. The first few slices I served didn’t have enough graham cracker crust because it was stuck to the pan. And we all know the graham cracker crust is totally the best part.

While making the cake, I also used a little of the crust and filling in a muffin pan and baked for about 20 minutes, giving me two little single serving mini cheesecakes for the freezer. You know, for those emergency cheesecake situations. Oh, you don’t get cheesecake emergencies? That’s just me? OK.

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