settled (for now) and cooking
August 2, 2010, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Cooking/Food | Tags: , ,

Cooking makes me feel at home, at ease. Tonight I’m cooking for the first time since moving into my friend’s place three nights ago. It makes me forget that I’m living out of a suitcase even if I am very comfortable here.

Chicken marsala over pasta = happy people.

chicken marsala

Chicken Marsala


  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast
  • 1 large head of shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 carton white mushroom, sliced
  • 3 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 3/4 cup marsala wine
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 5 slices thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, finely chopped


Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Heat on high olive oil and 1 1/2 tbs of butter in a large pan. Wait until the bubbles subside, pan fry seasoned chicken breasts in batches until both sides are golden brown, flipping once. Set aside.

With the oil in pan, reduce heat to medium high, put in prosciutto, letting it fry up. Add in mushrooms, shallots and cook until brown and mushrooms start to give off juice, about 7-10 minutes. Salt and pepper mixture. Turn heat back to high, add in marsala wine. After a few seconds of letting the alcohol evaporate, add in chicken broth, letting mixture simmer for 5 minutes. Slide chicken breasts back in to reheat. Using slotted spoon, take out all ingredients onto serving platter, leaving sauce in pan. Let sauce simmer and reduce for another 10 minutes. Add in 2 tbsp butter right before turning heat off. Spoon sauce over chicken and mushrooms. Garnish flat leaf parsley over top. Serve over rice or flat pasta such as fettuccine or pappardelle.

**What I would do next time is to use boneless, skinless chicken thigh instead of breast. I would also thicken the sauce just a little bit with a roux. It’s probably not authentic, but I think I’ll like it better.


the last supper
July 28, 2010, 1:01 am
Filed under: babble, Cooking/Food | Tags: , , ,

My roommate and I are moving out of our apartment this week. Renae is my third yet longest roommate at this apartment of three years. Even though it isn’t the fanciest place with the best view, it’s comfortable and homey. I will miss it. I will miss the loud, incessant noise from the freeway below, I will miss the tiny kitchen that we often cooked in. I will miss the lights over the bathroom sink that would not turn on right away when the switch is turned. I will my noisy bedroom in which I have to wear earplugs to sleep. It wasn’t the best place, but I have made it my place for the past three years.

Renae and I made our favorite dish for the third time, for the last time for a while–Mac n Cheese. We are possibly the most compatible mac-n-cheese-buddies, if there is such a connection. Our previous makings of the comfort dish included, in various combinations, truffles brought back from Italy, truffle oil bought from the store around the corner, goat cheese, aged cheddar, gruyere, mozzarella, whole milk, half n half, butter, pretend butter. This time, after surveying numerous recipes, we believe we have found the BEST version of the classic comfort food. And the ingredient list once again confirms that less is more.

We sat in the furniture-less living room savoring our best work, reminiscing past mac ‘n’ cheeses, envisioning future ones. Empty apartment makes for a suitable space for the happy food dance (perhaps in another post). Ahh, this last supper together will be one highlighted in my memory book. And the recipe will surely be starred in my recipe book.

Undeniably BEST Mac 'n' Cheese

Adapted (and slightly lightened) from

Emeril’s BEST Mac ‘n’ Cheese Ever Challenge Winner–Laura Macek (Click here for original recipe)


  • 1 head of garlic, roasted
  • 1 tbs plus 1 tsp olive oil (see directions)
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni pasta
  • 5 thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 1 ½ cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 2 ounces each grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and Pecorino Romano
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup minced shallots
  • 8 small caps of white mushroom or cremini, finely chopped
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 6 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. To roast garlic: Slice ½ inch off the top of the entire head of garlic. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap garlic head tightly in a square of heavy foil and roast until tender — about 45 minutes. Remove garlic pulp by squeezing garlic head. Smash cloves with a fork to form a paste.

3. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

4. In a nonstick pan on medium heat, drizzle 1 tsp olive oil and fry prosciutto until brown but not burnt. It will not be crispy until taken out of pan. Drain on paper towels. Reserve oil in pan. Crumble prosciutto when cool.

5. To make topping: Combine panko, crumbled prosciutto, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Pecorino cheese, and 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Set aside.

6. Preheat oven to 375°.

7. Sauté shallots and mushrooms over low heat in reserved prosciutto fat/oil for one minute. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and continue to sauté shallots and mushrooms until brown. Set aside.

8. In a heavy pot, make roux by first melting 2 tbsp butter into 2 tbsp olive oil over medium low heat. Add flour and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes. Increase heat to medium. Stirring constantly with a whisk, add milk and roasted garlic paste.

9. Cook until lumps from roux are dissolved and sauce is thickened (coats the back of a spoon). Remove sauce from heat then add salt, pepper, nutmeg, mushroom mixture, Gruyere and Cheddar cheeses. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary. Keep mixture slightly under salted as topping is salty.

10. Stir in cooked pasta. Pour into baking dish. Sprinkle topping to cover entire top. Cover with foil and bake 15 minutes until sauce is bubbly. Remove foil and broil until topping is browned, watching it carefully. Enjoy!

crispy top, creamy all over

Day X Snack X
July 20, 2010, 8:11 am
Filed under: Cooking/Food | Tags: , ,

pretty fresh radish


Sounds kind of weird, even gross, doesn’t it? I thought so. But it’s amazingly, refreshingly clean tasting. Spicy, light, flavorful.

I browsed through a few recipes to decide on the other ingredients.


  • 1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese
  • 5 medium radish, chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 bunch of fresh dill
  • 1 clove garlic
  • fresh ground pepper
  • pinch of kosher salt

Throw everything into blender and blend until creamy. As for me, I have a handheld immersion blender addiction, remember? So that’s my weapon of choice, of course. Serve chilled with chips, lavosh, bread, or carrot sticks!

Day 2 Meal 2

If it weren’t for purchasing the box of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) veggies, I would never thought to make some of these vegetables as they are out of my normal cooking repertoire.

Tonight the star dish was roasted root vegetables. And in the supporting role was flounder fillet with lemon and dill. I never knew how easy it was. It was simply chopping up the vegetables, toss it with a marinade of sort, and let the oven do all the work! Can’t be simpler than that.

Roasted Root Vegetables


  • 1 medium size turnip, chopped into chunks
  • 3 medium size fresh beets, chopped into chunks
  • 2 jumbo carrots, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1/2 large red onion (or 1 medium), chopped into large wedges
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled but leave whole
  • 1 medium okinawan sweet potato (or purple sweet potato), peeled and chopped
  • 3 small red potato, scrubbed clean and chopped
  • 2 medium sprigs of rosemary, washed and coarsely chopped

After cutting everything, put into a large bowl for mixing with the following:

  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (more if needed)
  • freshly ground pepper

Coat vegetables with marinade and spoon veggies onto foiled baking pans. Preheat oven to 400ºF, place baking pans into oven for 45 min to 1 hr. Turn vegetables after first 30 minutes. Bake until veggies are brown and caramelized, but not burnt. Transfer to serving dish and ENJOY!

flounder fillet with lemon and dill

The dish was amazingly satisfying. The beets retained its crunchiness, a nice contrast to the softened sweet potato, which is sweet like candy with a starchy texture, which is a nice contrast to the juicy turnips. You get the idea. It’s good and good for you.

Day 1 Meal 1 – Raw Kale Salad
July 15, 2010, 4:24 am
Filed under: Cooking/Food | Tags: , ,

While I’m still identifying the mystery veggies and searching for recipes, I know my cruciferous greens, and kale is one of my favorites. I’ve only learned to use kale in my recipes in the past few years, but mostly in soups. There’s a notable surge in popularity for these curly heads as they are now ubiquitous at salad bars or healthy markets. You see them raw, you see them cooked. Kale is not a wimpy green; it’s got a crispness when eaten raw, and it doesn’t just wilt into the texture of a wet plastic bag when cooked. And of course, there are all the health benefits of these dark, leafy greens.

I decided to try it raw today and made a nice salad with it. With summer fruits in hand (in fridge, rather), I put sweet nectarines, grape tomatoes, toasted walnuts, and shaved pecorino cheese for some salty balance. I also made my own salad dressing that has a hint of ginger to give me tastebuds some excitement.


  • kale, stemmed, washed, dried, chopped
  • 1 ripe nectarine, cored and chopped into bite sizes (green apple or peach would go very well in this too)
  • handful of grape tomatoes
  • handful of walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
  • pecorino cheese shavings

Throw everything together into a large bowl.

Salad dressing Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sherry or red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • minced ginger (amount determined by your liking)
  • 1 small shallot minced
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Mix everything together, let it sit for at least 10 minutes to let the flavors meld together. Drizzle and toss salad with it.

veggie tales
July 14, 2010, 9:48 am
Filed under: Cooking/Food, Cool Stuff | Tags: , ,

Sometimes I evaluate my diet and realize I’m almost a vegetarian. And I feel guilty. You see, I take pride in being a meat eater. My grandma made me nothing but a big plate of tasty meat with a bowl of rice for lunch everyday when I was in elementary school. (Uh, yes, I was chubbidy fat kid, but very cute, must I add...) One of my favorite t shirts now from reads “Vegetarians are eating the rainforest.” But because I’m too lazy to cook raw meat, I rarely buy it. Unsure of how prepared meats at the supermarket are prepared, I never buy those either, so I unless I eat out, no yummy meat goes into my tummy.

As a result (of my laziness), I have learned to love veggies. I like it so much that I don’t use dressing in my salads because it masks the sweetness of the lettuce and other vegetables. And as a result of this love for veggies, I am constantly seeking out places to buy fresh vegetables, which turns out to be local farmers markets. I have, then, indirectly learned to understand eating local, reducing carbon footprint, and community supported agriculture to be not just trendy-sounding buzz words but my responsibility to my community. Even though it’s more of an investment, the produce is much fresher compared to the airflown ones in regular supermarkets.

So this week, when people at my school co-ordered fresh picked vegetables from Otsuji Farm, a local farm in Hawaii Kai, and although it is not organic, I was excited to try out a case for $15. We were told that the variety of veggies in the case will depend on what’s ready for picking that day. The element of surprise makes the whole experience even more fun. The possibilities!

Today the first thing on my to-do list was to pick up veggies. Once in my hands, I opened the box like it was Christmas morning. The sight of the vegetables made me realize I’m not such a veggie expert after all as I had the slightest idea of what some of them are, let alone how to tastefully eat them. How many can you identify??

I feverishly looked up recipes for each of the vegetables, and I’m excited to try out everything. Stay tune to see what I end up putting on the table in the next couple of days!

A different kind of energy II

WELL, I fell into a food coma after just re-viewing those photos in that last post. And I surmise that it’ll happen again after this one because the food pic continues.

Let’s see, where did I leave off? oh yes, after a perky cup of organic, locally roasted coffee at Flipnotics (their website is so quintessential Austin, it makes me smile) and FlipHappy (I just noticed the theme there), we were just in time for Sushi-A-Go-Go. Yes, raw fish from a trailer.

Coming from Hawaii where grade A sushi is bountiful, I did not have high expectations. Whenever Austinites, or Texans for that matter, say that their sushi is ‘good,’ I smile the same smile as when someone in Hawaii say we have ‘good’ Mexican food. Although the man sitting inside the trailer does familiarly Japanese, I was still skeptical, especially on this 95+ degree day…

We ordered the spooky roll (spicy tuna, avocado, salmon over the rice), the summertime roll (shrimp tempura, spicy tuna mix, avocado, spicy go-go sauce& tempura crunchy on the top), and a special–one with ika (squid), ume (dried pickled plum) and shiso leaf (perilla; annual herb in the mint family)–my favorite combination of flavors. First bite into the spooky roll, my eyes got big, my instinctive reaction to taste buds happiness. The rice was fresh, the fish was fresh with firm texture, the taste was clean. Had we put the rolls on a fancy plate, you’d believe it came from a very decent sushi-ya. The only imperfection is the ubiquitous mayo concoction over the rolls. I’m a sushi purist, the simpler the flavors the better. But I still deem it another trailer success!

The next wheel over from Sushi-A-Go-Go was Sno Beach Hawaiian Shaved Ice. Cyn had wanted it since the night before but I was not ready. First of all, if you’re going to call it Hawaiian, you’d have to do it right and drop the grammar. There’s no ‘d’ in shave ice; it’s not a past action, its Hawaiian time (and grammar). And as a loyal Waiola customer, all other shave ice is second tier. But since Cyn, who has also had the real deal assured me that Sno Beach has Waiola-grade ice, I agreed to give it a try.

It did live up to Waiola’s level of silky smooth ice. My usual flavor combo at Waiola is green tea and milk, here I had a sweeter combo per Cyn’s recommendation of almond and wedding cake with creme added on top. I still don’t know what wedding cake flavor is, but it tasted good. And at $2.50, it’s the perfect palate cleanser.

By then the blazing Texas sun was directly overhead, perfect time to go back into the cool water. We paddled for nearly two hours working up another appetite for more. There were so many people also paddling, kayaking, canoeing, tubing. Leisure does it.

We returned to Torchy’s once again because of the alleged best queso in the world. It’s quite a claim so we have to see for ourselves.

It’s their green chili queso topped with guacamole, queso fresco, cilantro and diablo sauce. I don’t know if it’s the best queso in the world, but it is surely the best queso I’ve had. And you didn’t think we stopped there, did ya?

From top to bottom:

Dirty Sanchez–Scrambled eggs with guacamole, fried poblano chili, escabeche carrots, and shredded cheese served on a flour tortilla with our poblano ranch sauce.

Brushfire–Jamaican jerk chicken, grilled jalapenos, mango, Sour cream, and cilantro served on a flour tortilla with our Diablo sauce.

Don’t remember what the third is.

Baja Shrimp–Hand battered shrimp fried with cooked cabbage slaw, topped with pickled onions & jalapenos, queso fresco, cilantro and a lime wedge. Served on tortilla of choice and our creamy chipotle sauce.

Two words: DAMN GOOD.

Trailer food is great. And Austin is great largely because of it. There are many other trailers still waiting to be sampled: hot dogs, pizzas, burgers, cupcakes, bbq, you name it.