Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Kim chee me please

No matter how old I am, I think my mom will always try to feed me and send me home with mounds of food.  In a lot of ways I am just like her since I like to take care of others and send them home with goodies as well.  This time, my sister came to visit me and brought over homemade kimchee for my fridge.  Momma makes the best cabbage kimchee...garlicky, spicy, and cut into ready to eat pieces! I dont think that I will ever be able to live up to my mom's standards as I have yet to try to make my own kimchee.  So in my blog feed, I caught up on a blog from a great food blogger Wandering Chopsticks who listed her top recipes from 2007.  Among them were lovely Kimchee Pancakes.  Like almost anything in this world, mine will be a little bit different from hers but along the same grain.  Here is a link to her wonderful recipe and food blog: Wandering Chopsticks Food Blog- Korean Kimchee Pancakes

I like a runnier batter since I dont like the cakey texture of the finished pancake.  I also throw in some korean beef ultimate secret weapon! My batter is a mix of AP flour, water, beef seasoning, kimchee and for this time- diced potatoes.  I usually put finely ground pork raw into the batter since it works well with the kimchee and almost everything else.  But since I'm trying to use up my chicken (I had defrosted a bunch of chicken since I thought my friends were coming for dinner yesterday and today but they ended up flaking), not wanting to go to the grocery store for one item, and wanting to eat less meat when possible, the potatoes were given a trial run today.  I also like to make my pancakes into palm sized circles versus a giant circle that gets sliced up.  If you are going to use onions, I suggest green/ spring onions.  I have also used enoki mushrooms partly for their look and delicate taste.  I forgot to take a batter picture so here is one in the pan: 

So I'm a fan of the crunchy edges.  The point isnt to make perfect Sandra Lee or Giada-like circles.  You want the ridges and the brown splotches on the surfaces.  You me.  See how the color of your ingredients manage to peek through the batter and paint the landscape anyways? 

And voila...this is a perfectly cooked Korean Kimchee pancake in my humble opinion.  Well, also 31 years of eating this stuff too.  Go make this stuff...just wear your frying clothes! =)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I've never....

used an outdoor grill before.  Im almost 32 years old and I have never used the outdoor grill before.  At the risk of offending feminists everywhere, I always relied on the men around me to grill up the smokey, charred delights that i love.  I did have a decent panini press/ grill but it was a loaner and I had to return it to the rightful owner.  When we first got married, my hubby insisted that our first newly wed gift to ourselves should be...a man grill.  Now that he is still away on business...and I had defrosted a bunch of chicken meat under the mistaken guise that my friends were coming over for dinner, I was faced with the feat of acquainting myself with the grill.  My hubby even emailed me a quick easy how-to-turn-on-the-grill snippet!

Since it was my newbie effort...but more because its just me who has to eat all this meat once its cooked, I kept the seasonings simple with good old S&P.  That way, I get the health benefits of using the grill as the grease and fat is cooked off and the chicken doesnt just cook in its own fat AND the meat stays pretty neutral so that I can use the cooked meat and incorporate into other recipes.  Here is a closeup of the chicken only: 

See how the skin stayed crispy and the juice is shimmering?  Next time, I will use a sauce on time. 

This final picture is the chicken with the potato I grilled along side.  Next time I have to cut the slices of potato wayyy thinner as most of the slices didnt cook all the way.  Bummer.  It looks really dismal in the picture but I like to think that I am just showcasing the essence of the bird and the bud.  Check:

Let me pose a Q to my expert grillers.  How do you keep the skin from sticking to the grill?  Is the foil spread over the grill rack and poked with holes even work?  I just remember that from my parents old school ways.  Also how do you clean the grates?  My grill grates seem to catch all the food particles instead of letting things fall to the bottom of the grill.  My OCD does not want to make a mess with the grill!!!!!!
Hasta la bye bye kiddos. 

Sunday, January 17, 2010

NPP aka North Park Produce

After vowing not to go grocery shopping this weekend, I found myself yet at a grocery store.  This time, I checked out North Park Produce in Chula Vista after passing by the store several times while going to Costco and F&E before.  Obviously I bought some great cheap produce- tangerines, apples, collard green, red taters, tomatoes and cucumbers.  Why didnt I know that they also had prepared middle eastern food there?  I treated myself to Kebab Kafta plate from the prepared deli section.  It was a tossup between this and the beef stew over yellow rice.  Check out the pics:

So this is the closeup of the kebab.  It comes with two slabs of lamb/ beef mixture kebab off the stick and topped with a cream garlicky spread.  The lamb taste is pretty present in the dish but I enjoyed it.   I could have used some extra sauce on the side, but the guy wouldnt give me more.  Boo!  Since I dont eat alot of meat at one sitting, the plate lunch kebab I got will easily last me 3-4 meals.  Meat was not dried out or anything despite it being a solid piece of meat. 

Here is the yellow (saffron?) rice that came with the kebab kafta as well as a juicy roma tomato section that accompanied the dish.  Rice was a nice accompaniment with a light flavor and chewy consistency.  I couldnt really detect other major flavor components but then again, I'm not really that trained.  I wish they would have given more rice with the lunch pack.  Oh well. 

The prepared food section appears very popular there.  they madke other items such as shwarma, gyro, salads, baba ganush (the sample was very good), fresh salsa, baked on premise pitas and breads, tres leches cakes and pastries, roast chicken Lebanese style, etc.  If I would have been hungrier, I might have opted for something hot and fresh off the spit.  Plus, I noticed a coupon on the countertop on the back of their menu...who doesnt love a good coupon? 

On a completely unrelated note, does it make me a geek that I was shopping for 4 hours and all I bought was food, pillows, pills, discount Christmas stuff and a new pot and pan?  Gosh, either that or I am seriously getting old and domesticated!

Happy Eating...isnt there a game on right now? 

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Antique Thai and Brand New Convection Oven

For Christmas, my mother in law received a convection oven from my parents as the first present between in-laws.  They loved the convection oven and the local Costco carries the oven.  Its supposed to use half the energy of a regular oven, cook faster and more evenly, and toasts as well.  My local Costco happened to carry the item WITH A $10 coupon so of course I snatched one up.  My first foray into a countertop convection oven was a recipe that may be the first one I actually learned as a teenager (minus watching my mom make dinner of course).  Home economics class taught me two life long skills, one of which was the recipe in question and the other, being how to sew a button and thread a needle.  I dont count the needle though since my mom taught me a better way to thread the needle.  Alas, here is my Bagel Pizza ala Home Economics class:

This is the countertop convection oven I bought from Costco. It already has the uncooked pizzas inside.  The three dials have the following options: broil, bake, toast and warm with temps ranging from 125 to 450 I believe.  Comes with a baking pan, fitted rack and crumb tray.  The glare is from the window of my kitchen sink. 

Cooking clean and pretty! Let me tell you that I was super glad to have put foil in the pan before cooking.. I forgot how cheese likes to stick when bubbly and gooey! Plus I like my cheese on pizza browned up nicely. 

FYI Its so easy to make this if you are ever inclined for a quick pizza fix without the freeze burn of frozen pizza and without spending a ton of cash on takeout.  I used leftover Einstein "Everything" bagel, leftover Classico pasta sauce, Monterey Jack cheese and bacon.  Oh yeah...and the red pepper flakes are the sprinkles on top.  You dont even have to cook the bacon before cooks up quite nicely on top at a high temp baking while the bread was nice and crusty.  Enjoy!

The other day I we shopping at a TJ Maxx near Rosecrans.  I was famished afterwards so I was drawn to the "4.95 luch special" sign at Antique Thai.  I had read a Yelp review on this place before andseemed to remember favorable comments but was honestly too lazy and hungry to check again.  I ordered the lunch special of the Basil Eggplant--Spicy level 5/10. 


The starter soup.  Had a nice cabbagey sweet flavor.  Nothing too special but a welcome beginning to a 5 dollar meal.  I just would have preferred the white cabbage rinds to be cooked longer personally.  It also had carrots inside and some other green vegetable that must not have been that memorable after all.

Basil Eggplant. As usual the 4.95 option was the veggie as main ingredient option.  I have to say I wasnt that impressed.  Too many onions.  Only a few pieces of eggplant.  Sauce was too soupy in my opinion.  Flavor was decent but doesnt compare to the eggplant at Sab E Lee or Sang Dao.  Plus the sauce for eggroll fell into the other soupy sauce of the eggplant when they brought it to me so that ruined it even more.  They tried to charge me an extra 1.75 to substitute white rice for brown--I declined.  Salad was blah, dressing not that memorable.  But I was hungry so I ate most of it. 

Here is a super close up of the eggplant.  The sauce was so watery you cant even see it on this part of the dish.  Veggies were fresh at least. 

In case anyone cares, here is a closeup of the wonton that came with the special.  Standard issue.  Some kind of savory curry potato filling with a sweet undertone.  Like I said, I was terribly hungry. 

Overall, I wouldnt go out of my way to come back although I only did try one item so it might not be fair.  If arms were twisted, I would go back and try something else on a lunch special day or if someone else was picking up the tab lol.  Plus the parking lot is always full and a pain in the you know what every time due to several big name stores in the plaza. 

xoxo kiddos

Sunday, January 10, 2010

What I did today by the Diligent Diletante...

Went out for GNO Friday night and came home at an absurdly late uncharacteristic of me actually if you personally knew me.  That led to a lazy Saturday which in turn led to a guilty reaction and a forcibly busy day today.  Cooked up a proverbial storm and the fridge is officially S-T-U-F-F-E-D.  Follow me....

Kimchi, pork chop and tofu stew aka Kimchi chi-gae.  Perfect wintertime stew from Korea.  It is a great way to clean your fridge out and warm the bones.  The meat can be interchanged--as a kid my mom would either put pork chops if money was good, canned mackerel or anchovies if we were stretching the bucks.  Use kimchi that is getting too ripe for good eats during regular eating.  Dont go too soft on the tofu or else you will have tofu confetti going on.  You can also alter the spiciness by adding additional hot pepper powder.  Best with a bowl of rice and some good company. 


This is my novel efforts of making sinigang.  Sadly I used a packet from the asian market, but its only because I no longer live with a Filipino aunty who will feed me yummy treats like I used to when I was in my 20's.  Instead of fish, I used pork since that is what I had on sale at the market.  Hopefully I didnt break any tradition or do some kind of faux pas?  I did use tomatoes and bok choy as suggested on the packet.  No fish sauce at home but it seemed to taste pretty good anyways.


This is just a snack item or an extra ingredient  for a mid week meal.  Eggplant cubed up, sauteed in EVOO and seasoned with salt, olive oil and garlic.  My salty tooth would rather have this than a cookie or pie so it works very well for me! Also a good way to get rid of the other half of a giant eggplant.  Dont overcook unless you want the consistency of baba ganoush. 


Yes the picture quality is horrendous but try to ignore the yellowish tint and focus on the glistening broth and bacon bits.  My first attempt at collard greens came out splendid if I do say so myself.  Bought chopped and washed greens from F&E on sale on a whim.  I put red wine vinegar, garlic, bacon chunks, and secret southern seasoning and let it cook itself for 45 minutes.  Full of flavor and bite--a tiny bit of the collard green bitterness but seeing as I hate bitter flavor generally and it didnt bother me here... You gotta try this one.  Really.  I ate the leftovers with quiche, fed coworkers with this and mac n cheese, and ate it plain by itself too.  I had no idea they would be so versatile.  A friend of mine told me to try turkey broth next time....


Ok now that I got your attention for the last time in the post.... On a particularly lazy night last week, this ended up being my dinner.  Edamame from costco and a can of vienna sausages.  To make it even worse, the whole meal was cooked completely in the microwave! And with that bit of humor, I will bid ya'll adieu....

Happy cooking...and eating out!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Buffet time

It had been quite awhile since I went to a buffet of any kind.  My friend's 33rd bday led to an occasion to stuff our face family style at the formerly Crazy Savory Buffet on Miramar road.  I didnt take pics of the food but I did manage to take one final picture of the food.  This was the birthday special...note the cute bunny rabbit made from grapes? 

Buffet itself appeared to have 4-6 different stations.  I noticed the usual staples such as fast food chinese food dishes, a few sushi rolls, some seafood items like crawfish, boiled shrimp to peel, desserts.  Overall I only liked a few of the things I placed on my plate: sesame ball, this triangle shaped spicy crab roll, chinese veggies and clams.  I didnt find out about the crawfish until later but it didnt have seasoning on it so I was too lazy.  Oh well...cest la vie.  Would I come back?  Only if I had to for an occasion or had a bomb coupon to use. 


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Enchiladas from a Chinita

In my repertoire of recipes, I have about 20 that I rotate and play with.  I learned this enchilada recipe online, used tips from individuals in my past and present and take chances on ingredients as fillers--while holding steadfastly to certain original components.  The fillers are usually what I take chances on, but I always do a green sauce and add some kick.  I know what a traditional enchilada takes from watching others make them but this is a healthier alternative.

I love using leftover rotisserie chicken and whatever cheese is in the fridge.  In the past, I've also added in nopales, jalepenos, etc.  This time, I used chicken, corn, green onions, sour cream and hard boiled eggs.  In the future I probably wouldnt go with the eggs but I really wanted eggs today, maybe b/c I just bought a new case of eggs from Costco. 

A rectangle baking dish holds about 8-10 fatly stuffed enchilada rolls.  I always put a generous dose of the sauce on the bottom of the pan for flavor and so that it doesnt stick as much on the pan.  Its kind of fun to stuff, roll and tuck. 

So you just keep rolling like so, cover with sauce and sprinkle with cheese.  I bake at 375 for about 40 minutes and then about another 15-20 min so that the top gets crunchy.  No frying! Isnt that exciting?  I recommend you either make your own green sauce or use El Pato.  I experimented and regret venturing outside my favorite brand in this case. 

So I didnt get a cross section of an individual serving...guess that means you will have to make it for yourself and eat up! Just remember, no boiled eggs and use El Pato brand!!!!!  So crunchy... thats what you want.  It also freezes well, which is what I end up doing since I hate cleaning baked on goo off pans more than I absolutely have to.  xoxo

Monday, January 4, 2010

Dinin' in a Dive

In my work, I tend to go into the community during the day.  I drive by many a mom and pop store around lunchtime but never want to part with my hard earned money if it will suck.  I'm sure you guys have that place where you always drive by and wonder if that place is any good.  So goes my taste test at one such dive.  It did have an A grade on their window so I felt ok in giving it the old college try.  I did a beginner's bid and opted for carne asada tacos.  They have a grill outside and I would often drive by and see the meat being grilled outside au naturel.  Life is short, eat fresh tacos.  I wonder if I should copyright that...

Stuffed with meat.  Im not an extra meat kind of girl so I had to end up taking some out.  Lovely tortillas.  Can tortillas be lovely?  Soft with the right amount of chew.  The meat was decent taste, which was improved by the lime wedges they gave along with the tacos.  The guacamole was pretty tasty--subtle, not overly mashed, and generously dosed out.  They also had chicken or pork tacos btw. 

I love the red hot sauce.  Nice heat, more of a liquid sauce than chunky.  I took a pic of the red and the green but I preferred the red by a large margin.  The green was too tangy for me and not enough spiciness.  I ended up giving my green back and asking for another red.  The chips were generic store bought--zero cool points for that however.  At least they were free!

Here is a closer pic of the red sauce. 

Here is a snapshot of the grilled spring onions, limes and radishes that came along with tacos. If i liked onions it might have been welcome.   The radishes were surprisingly palatable--the ones i have bought in the grocery store have always been bitter. 

If my post inspired you to check it out, the place is called Fruti Mundo in Spring Valley.  Family run business it seems, but nice service from staff.  Tacos will run you $1.50 a pop and they have other items too like tortas, juices, smoothies, etc.  Cash only.