Sunday, September 30, 2007

Pollo alla Parmigiana (Italian Chicken Parmesan)

So as I said earlier, lil' sis says she eats my eggplant parmesan because she imagines it's something else.
Day 9 Chicken Parmesan
Chicken parmesan is such a quick and easy meal, and if you split one chicken breast fillet into quarters (in half and butterflied), you can stretch out your meal even further. So when lil' sis was debating about whether to get seconds, I said a second helping still only meant she ate half of one chicken breast. It's an easy way to deceive the eye while eating less. ;) But actually, the butterflied fillet also meant the chicken cooks faster. Pollo alla Parmigiana (Italian Chicken Parmesan) For two servings, you'll need: 1 chicken breast fillet, butterflied 1/2 to 3/4 cup bread crumbs 2 tblsp all-purpose flour 2 tblsp grated parmesan 1 tsp garlic powder 1 tsp parsley 1 egg 1/4 cup milk I find frozen chicken breast fillets easier to butterfly. Defrost for a minute or two in the microwave until it's no longer frozen but still firm, then carefully sliced in half horizontally. You can also cut the chicken breast in half vertically first, and then butterfly for smaller portions. I make my own seasoned croutons (Yes, I do!) so I just quickly pulsed them in the food processor. But if you don't, then in a bowl, mix 1/2 to 3/4 cup bread crumbs (depending on how much breading you want), 2 tblsp all-purpose flour, 2 tblsp grated parmesan, 1 tsp garlic powder, and 1 tsp parsley. Set aside. In another bowl, beat 1 egg with 1/4 cup milk. Take the butterflied chicken breast fillets and dip them into the egg/milk mixture, then the bread crumb mixture, the egg/milk mixture again, and the bread crumb mixture again. Pan-fry on medium to medium-high heat until golden and crispy. Place the chicken parmesan on an oven-safe plate, top with a dollop of cottage cheese in place of the mozzarella, a bit of tomato sauce, and a few shakes of parmesan cheese. Place in oven with broiler setting on medium for about 5 minutes to melt the cheese. Serve with a side of spaghetti or whatever pasta you wish. Enjoy! Who made my recipe for chicken parmesan? Alexis the Tiny said, "I skipped out on using the garlic powder, parsley and milk. It all turned out nicely and I served it up with spaghetti and tomato sauce."

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Melanzane alla Parmigiana (Italian Eggplant Parmesan)


Doesn't my eggplant parmesan look so puuurdy? And tasty too? Lil' sis ate it, but she said that's because if she tried really, really hard, she can pretend it's almost what she really wanted. I'll get to that dish in the next post. But since I'm the cook, and I love eggplant parmesan, that's what I made! Hehe. :P

Eggplant parmesan isn't terribly difficult, but there are a lot of steps so it can be time-consuming to make. Also, all the breading and cheese makes this dish quite high calorie so I've modified this recipe a bit. I'll include both options just in case, but trust me, the modifications are still very tasty.


Friday, September 28, 2007

Pesto Pasta



As I said, I froze a batch of pesto for lil' sis to take with her to school. Lil' sis loves pesto pasta so much that when she was engrossed with "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," the only time she paused was to gulp down a plate or two.

Pesto is quick and easy to make, and as a pasta, it's even quicker and easier.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Baked Figs Stuffed with Walnuts, Wrapped in Prosciutto, and Drizzled with Honey

Baked Figs Stuffed with Walnuts, Wrapped in Prosciutto and Drizzled with Honey 1

Figs! Oh, how I do love figs. I must admit, I used to not like figs. Probably because my only taste of them was in the form of Fig Newtons. Blech! And then oh, roughly 5 years ago, I was in Paris for the first time, and saw the plumpest, most succulent-looking figs ever. So I bought a handful, sat on a bench somewhere in a park along the Champs-Elysee and slowly peeled the stem and outer layers. Oh my! What wondrous fruit!

These sad little figs I found at Trader Joe's didn't quite live up to my memory. But then for $2 for a large container, I guess I can't complain. Obviously, these figs needed to be gussied up before I could eat them. And East Meets West Kitchen's post on prosciutto-wrapped figs got me thinking. So I stuffed them with a walnut, wrapped them in prosciutto, and drizzled honey all over. Mmm! If your figs aren't up to par, this is the way to go!


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ravioli with Basil, Squash Blossoms, and Ricotta

As I said, I made the tri-colored crostinis as part of an Italian dinner, so now we've arrived at the main course - ravioli with basil, squash blossoms, and ricotta. Do any of you do this? My basil plants never seem to survive winter. Trader Joe's sells 1-gallon pots of Italian basil for $2.99. I just keep it on my kitchen counter and clip basil leaves when I need them. Afterward, I just plant the basil outside. My youngest uncle gave me one last batch of squash blossoms and these were decidedly not as fluffy as previous ones so I decided to chop them up. Obviously if you don't have any on hand, you can make simple ravioli with basil and ricotta instead. Ravioli with Basil, Squash Blossoms, and Ricotta For 1 dozen ravioli, you'll need: 1 package of round wonton wrappers 1 cup ricotta cheese 6 or so squash blossoms, chopped finely However many basil leaves you wish, sliced into strips a few dashes of salt For ease, I simply take a pair of kitchen shears and snip small slices of both squash blossoms and basil leaves. Mix into ricotta cheese, add a few dashes of salt. Then lay your wonton wrappers onto a cutting board. With a pastry brush or your finger, moisten the outer edges. Add a spoonful of the ricotta, squash blossom, and basil mixture in the center. Place the other wonton wrapper on top, pressing around the ricotta mound so the outer edges lay flat like so. Boil a pot of water and gently drop in ravioli. Scoop them out when they float to the top. Top with tomato sauce of your choice, and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Here's a close-up of the squash blossom, basil, and ricotta mixture. Enjoy! We're leaving squash blossoms behind and heading into squash recipe season soon! My squash blossoms recipes: Bong Bi Nhoi Tom Chien (Vietnamese Shrimp-Stuffed Deep-fried Squash Blossoms) Crostinis with Arugula Pesto, Bruschetta al Pomodoro, and Squash Blossom Ricotta Deep-fried Squash Blossoms Deep-fried Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Basil and Cottage Cheese Ravioli with Basil, Squash Blossoms, and Ricotta Sauteed Squash Blossoms Squash Blossom Omelet Squash Blossom and Prosciutto Pizza Squash Blossom Quesadilla

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Mooncakes on the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival

I interrupt this little series of lil' sis's won't eat/favorite foods to wish everyone a Happy Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. I know, technically it's belated since I'm still catching up on blog posts, but it's the thought that counts right? ;)

Read more about the mid-autumn moon festival.

My oldest uncle gave me a very, very large Asian pear, a mooncake, and a mochi.

It's the fruit and nut filling kind of mooncake. My favorite. I'm not a fan of the lotus seed paste or hard-boiled yolk mooncakes.

Would you like a slice?

Mooncakes are never eaten all at once but sectioned, then slowly savored over the span of several days. Which is exactly what I did.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Tri-Colored Crostinis with Arugula Pesto, Bruschetta al Pomodoro, and Squash Blossom Ricotta

The greenness of the arugula pesto was a perfect chance to play around a little with color. And since I was making Italian, how 'bout something with the colors of the Italian flag? :) Crostinis (Italian little toasts) or canapes don't have to be elaborate. A quick schmear of whatever you have on hand and you'll still have a pretty plate of appetizers. (Did you like how I used Italian and Yiddish in one paragraph? :) Hehe. ) Tri-Colored Crostinis with Arugula Pesto, Bruschetta al Pomodoro, and Squash Blossom Ricotta I only made this one plate of crostinis so you'd obviously need a lot more if you're planning a party. Otherwise, you'll need: 1 loaf of bread, sliced and toasted Arugula pesto Bruschetta al pomodoro (tomato bruschetta) 2 tablespoons of ricotta 1 squash blossom, chopped finely Prosciutto, if you wish A dash of salt Slice loaf of bread on the diagonal and toast the bread. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil if you wish. Set aside. If you've made the arugula, or basil pesto, then spread some on the toast now and you'll have this. If you don't have squash blossoms, you can just make white crostinis with plain ricotta and a dash of salt. I mixed in finely chopped squash blossoms with a few spoonfuls of ricotta cheese and a bit of salt. Spread on more toast points. Or add a few strips of prosciutto if you wish for more flavor. I made a quickie bruschetta al pomodoro with grape tomatoes, garlic, basil, olive oil, salt, and freshly ground black pepper, but you can make my full regular recipe for bruschetta if you wish. Arrange on a plate. Enjoy! My squash blossoms recipes: Bong Bi Nhoi Tom Chien (Vietnamese Shrimp-Stuffed Deep-fried Squash Blossoms) Crostinis with Arugula Pesto, Bruschetta al Pomodoro, and Squash Blossom Ricotta Deep-fried Squash Blossoms Deep-fried Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Basil and Cottage Cheese Ravioli with Basil, Squash Blossoms, and Ricotta Sauteed Squash Blossoms Squash Blossom Omelet Squash Blossom and Prosciutto Pizza Squash Blossom Quesadilla

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Pesto with Arugula and Walnuts



While I usually make pesto with basil, I just couldn't resist buying a batch of fresh young arugula leaves from the Farmers' Market - Alhambra, especially since my favorite farmer tossed in an extra bunch for free.

This is a quick and easy recipe, but one of lil' sis's favorites. It also freezes well.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Pho Thanh Lich Vietnamese Restaurant - Westminster (Little Saigon)

Since I'm not often down in Orange County anymore, which means I'm not often dining in Little Saigon anymore either, my brother becomes my guinea pig for trying new restaurants. One of them is Pho Thanh Lich Vietnamese Restaurant in Westminster. Unassuming facade.
Pho Thanh Lich Vietnamese Restaurant - Westminster (Little Saigon) 1
Standard pho restaurant interior.
Pho Thanh Lich Vietnamese Restaurant - Westminster (Little Saigon) 2
But wait. What's listed under the #1? Pho dac biet + tai dac biet (Pho Bo (Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup) special + rare filet mignon)? Filet mignon pho? Yup, folks, this is the ultimate in fusion cuisine. Only $6 for a small bowl of filet mignon pho or $6.75 for a large.
Pho Thanh Lich Vietnamese Restaurant - Westminster (Little Saigon) 3
The obligatory herb plate of sawtooth herb, lime quarters, bean sprouts, Thai basil, and jalapenos.
Pho Thanh Lich Vietnamese Restaurant - Westminster (Little Saigon) 4
And the small bowl of filet mignon pho.
Pho Thanh Lich Vietnamese Restaurant - Westminster (Little Saigon) 5
Here's a close-up of the filet mignon slices. According to my brother, who's been tastetesting filet mignon pho at a few other restaurants, Pho Thanh Lich's filet mignon slices are slightly thicker so you can really taste the "filet mignon-ness," if you will. This got both my parents and lil' sis's seal of approval. And you know how hard it is to please Vietnamese parents, who always insist that everything's better at home. My brother has since introduced this place to his friend, who in turn introduced it to his brother.
Pho Thanh Lich Vietnamese Restaurant - Westminster (Little Saigon) 6
I found the broth flavorful but a bit greasy. And yes, the filet mignon slices were indeed very tender. I would advise ordering the rare meat on the side, and adding it in yourself because by the time the piping hot bowl got to the table, the meat leaned toward well-done. A small bowl of normal rare beef pho is $4.25, but even at $6, the filet mignon pho here is quite a deal for such an indulgence. Other filet mignon pho restaurants: Pho Filet Vietnamese Restaurant - South El Monte Pho Huynh Vietnamese Restaurant - South El Monte Pho Thang Long Restaurant - Westminster (Little Saigon) Pho Thanh Lich Vietnamese Restaurant 14500 Brookhurst St. Westminster, CA 92683 714-531-5789 Monday to Saturday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Lil' Sis Abandoned Me :( and Why We're Such Daddy's Girls

Letters from Lil Sis 4
Letters from Lil' Sis
When I left for college a long, long time ago, my dad escorted me. One, because I had never been to Chicago before. Two, because we had no family there so my parents were worried that I had no one to watch over me. My dad even managed to track down our former neighbors in Vietnam, whom he hadn't spoken to in 15 years, just so I'd know someone. He helped cart my luggage into my dorm, and then waved good-bye so I could make friends without my daddy hanging around. I was too excited about being in college to really think about how hard it must have been for my dad to let me go as he walked to the train station alone. My mom said when I first left for school, my dad often sat in the backyard just staring into space. My dad said my mom would sleep with lil' sis in my old bedroom. A few years after that when it was my brother's turn, and he chose to go even farther away, all the way to the East coast, my dad again took him off to school. Daddy asked my brother what he needed to settle in, and went out to buy clothes hangers for my brother. And before he left, he took my brother to a nice restaurant near campus. Daddy said he didn't want my brother to pass by the restaurant during all four years of school and wonder what it'd be like to dine there. My brother said he doesn't remember the restaurant being particularly special. But since our family only went out to eat at Chinese or Vietnamese restaurants, it must have seemed very posh to my dad. Many, many years later, it's lil' sis's turn to leave for school. And while my brother and I are perfectly capable of helping her move in (she's only a few hours away after all), lil' sis wanted to continue the family tradition and have daddy take her off to college too. Luckily the airlines also had a huge sale the month before, so my mom insisted she come too. We loaded up my and lil' sis's cars, moved in her stuff, my dad and brother assembled lil' sis's loft bed, then I drove around campus a bit so my parents could see her school. Then it was a quick dinner before we waved good-bye. All the while on the drive home, daddy fretted about how lil' sis will settle in, whether she'd get along with her roommate, whether she should have gotten the other closet, whether the loft bed is too close to the ceiling, etc., etc. Is it any wonder lil' sis and I are such daddy's girls? :) Anyway, the next series of posts are gonna be what I call, things I make that lil' sis doesn't like to eat, and what I end up cooking for her instead. She's soooo spoiled! And very excited that I'm dedicating a week of posts to all her favorite foods. I also packed a little cooler with some frozen spaghetti and meatballs, arugula pesto, and nem nuong (Vietnamese grilled pork patties), and a jar of very spicy Baechu Kimchee (Napa Cabbage Kimchee). She also asked me to make some kalbi and bulgogi (Korean marinated short ribs and beef) for her to bring back the next time she comes home. Sigh. The things I do for you lil' sis! Before she left town, lil' sis wanted to visit some favorite restaurants. Yes, we're gluttons. But we didn't eat all this in one sitting. I finally got Dungeness crab! And oh my god was it good! So meaty and succulent. My previous post on The Boiling Crab - Alhambra.
Boiling Crab - Alhambra 13
Boiling Crab - Alhambra 14
And since lil' sis and her best friend wanted to see just how good Korean barbecue could be, I took them to Chung Kiwa Korean BBQ Restaurant - Los Angeles (Koreatown).
Chung Kiwa Korean BBQ Restaurant - Los Angeles (Koreatown) 20
At first, lil' sis and her best friend weren't too impressed with this display of panchan. But we weren't done yet.
Chung Kiwa Korean BBQ Restaurant - Los Angeles (Koreatown) 21
Then comes the salad, rice noodle sheets, and daikon sheets, and dipping sauces.
Chung Kiwa Korean BBQ Restaurant - Los Angeles (Koreatown) 22
The black angus kalbi went up in price, so it's now $29.99. Eeek! But lil' sis and her best friend said they could definitely taste the quality of the beef. A non-black angus order of kalbi is in the low $20s?
Chung Kiwa Korean BBQ Restaurant - Los Angeles (Koreatown) 23
The bulgogi was somewhere in the low $20s.
Chung Kiwa Korean BBQ Restaurant - Los Angeles (Koreatown) 24
Then came rice and soup.
Chung Kiwa Korean BBQ Restaurant - Los Angeles (Koreatown) 25
And cold noodles. Oh man, we were stuffed.
Chung Kiwa Korean BBQ Restaurant - Los Angeles (Koreatown) 26
On another night, actually around midnight, lil' sis and I ran out for some Mexican grub. My previous post on Carnitas Michoacan - Los Angeles (Lincoln Heights).
Carnitas Michoacan 12
Carnitas Michoacan 13
Ha! Don't you wish you were home now lil' sis? :)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Pho Pasteur - Rosemead

My parents came into town. You'll find out why in the next post. And after picking them up from the airport, my mom had a craving for bun bo Hue (Vietnamese beef noodle soup from Hue). And remembering what my friend said about her preference for the bun bo Hue at Pho Pasteur, that's where I took them.

I had never been to Pho Pasteur before, but apparently lil' sis goes regularly. Huh! Without me?! Huh! Anyway, I had never been here before because it's located in Rosemead, a little out of my usual eating radar of Alhambra/San Gabriel, and because the strip mall it's located in is rather worn looking.

I was pleasantly surprised by the interior though. Nothing extraordinary, but given the outside, I was expecting something equally worn looking.

My dad, I, and lil' sis all ordered pho bo (Vietnamese beef noodle soup). I think I ordered pho tai nam gan sach (Vietnamese beef noodle soup with rare beef, brisket, tendon, and tripe). The small bowls were still in the $4something range, large $5something.

My small bowl of pho was packed with noodles and lots and lots of beef. Actually, probably a little bit too many since I couldn't finish before the broth had cooled. The meat was a little on the fatty end too. Not a bad bowl of pho, but not the best either. It was merely OK to me. Lil' sis says this is her and her best friend's favorite pho place, hence why she goes all the time. Without me! Huh!

Obligatory shot of the herb plate - bean sprouts, Thai basil, sawtooth herb, lime quarters, and jalapenos.

My mom's bun bo Hue was a bit on the salty side but very strong in lemongrass flavors. Actually, I think I remembered little bits of ground lemongrass scattered amongst the bowl. There were also several large pieces of pig's feet, blood cubes, and beef slices. This satisfied my mom's bun bo Hue craving.

But...and I wonder if any else's parents do this? While we regularly eat off of each other's plates in my family, noodle soups are a little harder to share. So my parents have taken to eating half of their soup and then swapping. Except, my mom really had a bun bo Hue craving, so finishing off her meal with my dad's pho didn't leave her so happy. Neither was he. I said they should have just swapped back. :P Anyway, I think my parents are cute. :)

Oh, and here's the bun bo Hue herb plate - bean sprouts, jalapenos, red cabbage, rau ram (Vietnamese coriander), and tia to (purple perilla).

There's also rice dishes on the menu, but we didn't order any of those. The pho is good, not excellent, just good. I think their bun bo Hue is better, although still not excellent.

*All photos courtesy of lil' sis's camera. I know! I actually forgot my camera at home.

Pho Pasteur
8821 Valley Blvd
Rosemead, CA 91770
626-292-5888

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Basil Seed Drink

While I'm on the subject of cooling drinks, basil seeds are reputed to treat constipation, diabetes, and indigestion. I just like the way the seeds are sort of slippery in my mouth. :P

Anyway, since Henry Chan's Food Videos had asked about them after seeing this picture of Indian falooda with basil seeds, and since this mini-post will allow me to get caught up that much sooner...I thought I'd share in case other people didn't know about basil seeds either.

This can was 69 cents at the San Gabriel Superstore. I have no idea what sterchlia is. Anyone? The Vietnamese name doesn't ring a bell either. Are they related to semen seeds? No, not that kind! The tea kind! Hehe. ;)


The seeds look like they have a fuzzy outer layer, but they're actually a bit slippery. They're pretty tasteless to me, but the texture is sort of like tomato seeds. I love eating foods with slimy seeds like tomatoes, okra, cucumbers. :P


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sinh To Nha Dam (Vietnamese Aloe Vera Shake)

Sinh To Dam (Vietnamese Aloe Vera Shake) 1

Ah, didn't know you could drink aloe vera, did you? Or maybe you did? It's a common enough shake in Vietnam, but I'm not sure many people know about it here. Not in its raw form anyway.

During the recent heat wave, UnHipLA asked me about its health benefits after she taste-tested five different brands of aloe vera juice. While we know aloe vera soothes sunburns, taken internally, it also acts as a natural laxative, helps kill parasites, heals ulcers, and soothes stomachaches, according to this website anyway. I don't know the exact particulars, but my second-youngest aunt says its good for me and likes to eat aloe vera during hot weather. She usually just mixes some fresh lemon juice and sugar with slices of raw aloe vera.

Luckily my youngest uncle has plenty growing in his yard so I can share my recipe with you.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Heirloom Tomato Salad


Aren't those the most gorgeous tomatoes you've ever seen? I looooove tomatoes. Well, if you remember last spring I once purchased 10 pounds of tomatoes, which I turned into Cobb salad, sinh to ca chua (Vietnamese tomato shake), and bruschetta. And of course more recently, fried green tomatoes.

Last year I grew 10 tomato plants but didn't even harvest that many tomatoes because 3-inch long caterpillars the size of my finger ate them all! Including a Mr. Stripey and a lemon Better Boy. The heirloom tomatoes I've been seeing at the farmers' market are $4 a pound. Crazy! So when I saw this small basket at Trader Joe's for $2something, I snatched it up. And since I wanted to really taste the tomatoes, I decided a simple, simple dressing works best. Of course, you can do this with any variety of tomato you wish.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

No-Soak Rice Paper

A while back I got an email from Jeni of Oishii Eats asking for my address because she wanted to send me something she thought I'd enjoy. Since she just got back from Vietnam (And you should seriously check out her blog for pictures if you're not already a reader), I was gleeful with anticipation. Seriously. Gleeeeeeful! Gleeful!

Because what did I get in the mail? Two stacks of no-soak rice paper!!! I think you'd call these banh trang tuoi (fresh rice paper) or banh da as Northerners would call it.

On the left is normal rice paper that needs to be quickly soaked before wrapping spring rolls. On the right is the fresh rice paper that you eat dry. As you can see, it's very, very translucent. A friend told me the pliability that allows this to be eaten without being wet is because it's not fully dried. You won't find it here because not fully drying the rice paper means it'll mold if not eaten fairly quickly after it's made. I've only eaten this in the southern part of Vietnam, but as the wrapper is written in Northen dialect, and it's packaged and doesn't seem to mold yet, I can only assume it's a different formulation? Do any of my readers know exactly how no-soak rice paper is different from normal rice paper?

Anyway, luckily I had just gotten back from the grocery store with some ground turkey for another recipe. I decided to make a batch of nem nuong (Vietnamese grilled pork patties) with turkey instead.

These tasted different from the versions I've had before. Once the warm meat touched the rice paper though, it became soft and pliable. Soooo good.

Jeni said I was the only person she knows who would truly enjoy this. Oh, boy, did I! Mmm! To borrow her phrase, this was oishii! Thanks again Jeni! :)