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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Okra and Tomatoes

I had bought some okra with the intention of making a pot of Canh Chua Ca (Vietnamese Sour Fish Soup), but then got lazy. A quick Google search turned up a Creole okra and tomatoes recipe from Nola Cuisine. I omitted the tasso ham or bacon called for in the recipe and decided to make this dish vegetarian. A few dashes of Tabasco Sauce turned this into such a simple yet tasty dish.
Okra and Tomatoes
Okra and Tomatoes Adapted from Nola Cuisine You'll need: About 1 lb okra or as much as you'd like, cut into 1-inch pieces About 2 tomatoes, diced 1/2 onion, diced 3 cloves garlic, minced 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp ground black pepper 1/2 tsp bay leaves Tabasco sauce, to taste Dice 1/2 onion and mince 3 cloves of garlic. In a saucepan on medium-high heat, drizzle a bit of oil into the pan and saute onions and garlic. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp of salt and continue sauteing. Meanwhile, quickly slice and dice okra and tomatoes. When the onions have softened, add the okra and tomatoes. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp bay leaves, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper, and a few dashes of Tabasco Sauce. Saute until okra loses its sliminess and tomatoes have softened to your liking. Serve as a side dish, or with rice. Enjoy! My other Southern American recipes: Boiled Peanuts Buttermilk Biscuits Fried Green Tomatoes Southern Fried Chicken with Cream Gravy and Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Dau Phong/Cu Lac Luoc (Vietnamese Boiled Peanuts)

Updated from the archives June 16, 2014:

Dau Phong Cu Lac Luoc (Vietnamese Boiled Peanuts) 1

Every once in a while, my family makes boiled peanuts for snacking. We don't do much, boil fresh peanuts until they soften, then lightly salt them. I thought it was just a Vietnamese thing until my freshman year of college. It was spring break and I was driving down to Mississippi with a group of other volunteers to build houses for Habitat for Humanity. We stopped off at a gas station and inside they sold boiled peanuts. Who knew it was a Southern American thing too?

Here's one of the funny things about the differences between Vietnamese dialects. For Southerners, peanuts are called dau phong. Northerners call peanuts cu lac. Well, lac is also the word for lost. "Lac duong" = lost your way. But you can't say "dau phong duong" = peanut your way? Heh. OK, bad joke. Only another Vietnamese would get that.

Shelled boiled peanuts are also used in Chinese cooking for an appetizer with celery and tofu like at Luscious Dumplings Inc. - San Gabriel or to steam with poultry like at Seafood Village - Temple City. Raw peanuts, not the roasted and salted kind found in stores, come into season in the fall. I found mine at the Farmers' Market - Alhambra for $1 or so a pound?

Did you know there's a technique to picking raw peanuts? While I was trying to figure out what to put in my bag, another lady was squeezing each one. She told me to make sure that you could feel the peanut inside its shell, otherwise it's either too small or hadn't formed yet.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Thanh Long (Dragon Fruit) Flowers

For Peachy Mango Delight who asked to see my dragon fruit flowers. This was from my youngest uncle's vine back in 2000, when my family first started growing dragon fruit. She thought the blooms looked similar to bong quynh. I couldn't figure out its English name. Sorry for the poor photos. They're photos of my photos from back then.
Thanh Long (Dragonfruit) 1
Thanh Long (Dragonfruit) 2
And of course, this is the dragon fruit in my backyard. The flowers only bloom at night. I always seem to miss them so that's why I had to use old photos of dragon fruit blooms.
Thanh Long (Dragonfruit) 3
Only two dragon fruits for me, as opposed to my youngest uncle's dragon fruit bounty. April 16, 2008 update: Oanh of Halfway Between Ca Mau and Saigon suggested that my unidentified cactus flower in May is a cereus. I think the Vietnamese bong quynh is then the night blooming cereus. Mystery solved? Other garden updates. ***** 1 year ago today, my fuschia cosmos are on their last legs. Also, strawberry guava and iceberg roses.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Pickled Grapes

Since I was on a pickle tangent with Do Chua (Vietnamese Pickled Stuff ie. Carrots and Daikon) and Rau Muong Chua (Vietnamese Pickled Water Spinach), I had also experimented with sweet pickles a few months back. After Molly of Orangette mentioned serving pickled grapes at her wedding reception, I was immediately intrigued.
Pickled Grapes
Pickled Grapes Adapted from Orangette For one 24-oz jar, you'll need: 1 bunch of large red or purple grapes, seedless 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar 1/2 cup water 1 tblsp sugar 1/2 tsp salt 1 cinnamon stick You can trim off a bit of the grape near the stem so it can absorb more vinegar if you wish. Place cinnamon stick inside jar. Wash grapes and place them inside jar. In a pan, heat 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup water, 1 tblsp sugar, and 1/2 tsp salt. When the water boils, pour into jar. If there's still space on top of the jar, add water until the grapes are completely covered. Tighten lid immediately. You should hear a "pop," indicating the jar is sealed. The pickles should be ready to eat the next day. The grapes will still be crisp with a salty, sweet, sour taste. Eat within a week as the grapes will become too soft and too sour. Enjoy! My other pickle recipes: Baechu Kimchee (Napa Cabbage Kimchee) Bok Choy Kimchee (Korean Pickled Bok Choy) Do Chua (Vietnamese Pickled Stuff ie. Carrots and Daikon) Gaennip/Kaennip Kimchee (Korean Pickled Sesame/Shiso/Perilla Leaves) Ggakdugi Kimchee (Korean Pickled Radish/Daikon) Rau Muong Chua (Vietnamese Pickled Water Spinach) ***** 1 year ago today, Pho Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup).

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Rau Muong Chua (Vietnamese Pickled Water Spinach)

This recipe came about when I was making Rau Muong Xao Toi Chao (Vietnamese Water Spinach Stir-fried with Garlic and Fermented Bean Curd) and had all these leftover stems.

So I decided to pickle them using the same recipe as my pickled okra. Super simple. Very tasty. Makes a great snack on its own, or as a side dish.

Rau Muong Chua

Friday, October 26, 2007

Do Chua (Vietnamese Pickled Stuff ie. Carrots and Daikon)

Do chua (literally translated as Vietnamese pickled stuff) is commonly found in banh mi sandwiches. While it can be made of any type of vegetable, it usually means pickled carrots and daikon.

Do Chua (Vietnamese Pickled Stuff ie. Carrots and Daikon)

The recipe is super-simple and should be adjusted depending on the size of your carrots and daikon. The key is to julienne the vegetables as grating them just makes them a bit too mushy. Since they're pickled, they'll keep for months and months in the fridge. So don't worry if you don't eat it all at once.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Four Color Carrot Salad

There are some foods that should just be enjoyed the way Mother Nature intended, or at least enjoyed with very little added. And so it was that when I found a bag of four different-colored carrots at Trader Joe's I bought it anyway without a recipe in mind.

I simply admired the colors at first.

Then peeled them and admired them some more.

Then repositioned the carrots and kept admiring them.

And repositioned them yet again to see which angle looked best.

My favorite was the red. And actually the darker the carrot, the more pronounced the flavor. The white was basically bland.

Then I actually got around to grating the carrots.

And tossing them.

Four Color Carrot Salad

For a large bowl, you'll need:

4 pretty carrots, peeled and grated
Rice vinegar, to taste
Sugar, to taste

I made a very light vinaigrette, using just a bit of sugar and rice vinegar. I was thinking of something similar to do chua (Vietnamese pickled stuff ie. carrots and daikon).

That's it. I ate probably a cupful or so of this.

Then if you'd like to turn it into do chua for a banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich) simply add more vinegar and let it soak for half an hour until lightly pickled.

The other carrots I saved for an incredibly carroty carrot cake. But that's a post for another day.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tree/Wood Ear Fungus/Mushroom

Tree Wood Ear Fungus

Tree/wood ear fungus/mushroom, called nam meo in Vietnamese, is a popular ingredient in Chinese and Vietnamese cooking. Although it is sometimes referred to as a mushroom, it is a fungus that grows on trees. Nutritionally, it has anticoagulent properties and helps prevent blood in feces, hemorrhaging, and excessive menstrual flow. It is inexpensive and is often sold dried, whole or in strips (like what you see in the picture).

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Kiki Bakery - Alhambra

A while back, I was meeting up with my friend E(L) for a belated birthday dinner at Messob Ethiopian Restaurant in Los Angeles and I knew I couldn't come empty-handed. Remembering the cute cakes at Kiki Bakery from when I dined at Jazz Cat Cafe next door, I swung by to pick up some on the way to meet up with her.

Tell me this isn't the cutest container ever? My friend actually squealed with delight when she saw the box.

Kiki Bakery - Alhambra 1

I bought her mango and chocolate mousse cakes for $2.65 each. Shhh! Don't tell her how cheap they were. :P

Monday, October 22, 2007

I Didn't Go Anywhere, But My Camera Traveled to Hong Kong

These days the only things I buy are food and books. My house is tiny. I really don't have anymore room for anything. But the day after my birthday, my youngest aunt dropped off a present.

How did she know I love tea parties? :)

Even though I haven't been able to go anywhere, my camera sure did. I lent my camera to UnHip LA, who was in Hong Kong for a few days. Check out her posts about pantyhose tea and herbal tea.

And look what souvenirs she brought back for me. These will be fabulous for dinner parties.

And as if that wasn't enough, I also got a skirt, a cell phone charm, some hotel bath products, and ginger candy.

Thanks UnHip LA! You're the best!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Perfectly Sweet - Alhambra

My brother had brought my present to dinner at Uzbekistan restaurant in Los Angeles, but I'm not the type to make a fuss in public, so we went home so I could unwrap ie. eat my present. Thanks brother! :)

Perfectly Sweet - Alhambra 1

It came in a pretty box.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Uzbekistan - Los Angeles (Closed)

As I said previously, traveling makes me uber-happy. But I haven't been able to leave the country in two years. :( So what do I do about it? I decided to go to Uzbekistan!

Uzbekistan - Los Angeles 1

The restaurant that is. :P

The outside is a basic strip mall facade, but the inside rather resembled a tent, no? Do I have any Central Asian readers? I know I got my first hit from Kazakhstan recently... I know, I know, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are two different countries. I'm woefully ignorant about both. But as I always say, food is the best way to learn about another culture.

Now, how I got to eventually dine at this restaurant is a rather roundabout story. Located on Sunset Boulevard, I used to drive past it all the time when I went clubbing. Back when I used to go clubbing anyway. Long, long ago. It elicited a slight curiosity but not much more. Of course, this was before blogging. Now it seems like I'm on a mission to eat every ethnic cuisine SoCal has to offer. Or am I trying to eat from A to Z? And should I include only restaurants, or can I cook what I can't find? Because then Uzbekistan wouldn't be my first U, that would be Ukraine and the borscht I made in March. And I'm completely stumped on X. What cuisine or ethnicity starts with X? Gah!

But to get back to my long lead-in to this story, and please bear with me because I still haven't gotten to Uzbekistan yet! Long before Borat put Kazakhstan in people's heads and even longer ago when I lived in the Bay, I caught a show by the 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors, featuring a skit about hapas. I can't re-tell it nearly as funny as I remembered, but the main point was that the hapas wanted to go to Kazakhstan, where they'd fit in because everyone there is "Eurasian." That's #1 for when Kazakhstan, and Central Asia, entered my consciousness.

A few years ago, I was in Maui for a college friend's wedding, and sitting at my table at a luau was a couple with two incredibly beautiful children. I could tell they were both hapa, but I couldn't figure out their ethnicity. They were adopted from Kazakhstan. That's #2! (Actually, the couple only intended to adopt the girl, but she insisted they adopt a little boy she had been caring for as well. And now that she was entering her teens and he was still a bratty little brother, she teased that she should have left him behind. :P )

Fast forward to a few months ago, I got cousin Q (I have to mention him from time to time because his friends read my blog. Heh.) to add "Nomad: The Warrior" into his Netflix queue for me. That's #3! I have no idea why a film about Kazakhstan starred Jason Scott Lee, Marc Dacascos, Archie Kao, Kuno Becker, and Jay Hernandez. Nevertheless, I was fascinated by the scenery, the costumes, and the faces of all the extras.

Well, if something keeps popping up, it makes me curious. So go to Wikipedia if you want to read more about Kazakhstan, and here to read about Uzbekistan. By the way, did you know there's now about 500,000 ethnic Koreans in the former Soviet Union, primarily in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan who were forcibly deported by Stalin in the 1930s? There's even a documentary about the Koryo Saram. Fascinating isn't it?

But what did they eat? I don't know of any Kazakh restaurants in SoCal, but I knew there was an Uzbek restaurant. So yes, while I know that the two are different countries, cultures, languages, and cuisines, this was the closest I could come to Kazakhstan. And besides, it'd be a whole new experience for me.

Now, I don't know about you, but few of my family or friends are that adventurous when it comes to eating. But there's one time of year when my siblings take me where I want - my birthday! In preparation, I read up a little about Uzbek cuisine beforehand.

Because Uzbekistan was a part of the Soviet Union for so many years, and because there's a much larger Russian than Uzbek population in SoCal, the restaurant also offers Russian cuisine. And while I heard it's good, I didn't choose to go to Uzbekistan to eat Russian food. So, with no further ado, onto Uzbekistan the restaurant, not the country, and definitely not Kazakhstan.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Jazz Cat Cafe - Alhambra (Closed)

It doesn't take much to make me happy. Travel, of course, is #1. But traveling needs to be saved up for, planned, and if I'm lucky, occurs a few weeks a year, or every other year. So let's talk about tangible happiness. I've really only got two: books and food. I love it when I glom onto a new author. I love getting so involved in a book that I have to finish right there and then, nevermind that the sun has risen and I have to be up early the next day. Then I scour bookstores to buy up their backlist because waiting for Amazon would just take too long. And then I stay up all night again reading the next book. Well, every once in a while, I glom onto restaurants as well.
Jazz Cat Cafe 9
Such was the case with Jazz Cat Cafe in Alhambra. How did this restaurant escape my notice before? I drive along Valley Boulevard all the time. After I first saw the array of hot pot flavors on BiggestMenu, I immediately nudged this restaurant to the top of my neverending "to-eat" list. I've eaten here about half a dozen times in the space of a few months, and at one point, three times in one week! Talk about glomming! And no, I haven't tasted all the hot pot flavors yet (Not for lack of trying, mind you.). Is it the individual hot pots that appeal to me? The squash and bok choy and other veggies that makes me feel like I'm eating healthy? The fusion variety of broths from Japanese curry to Korean kimchee to Thai spicy chili? The somewhat trendy and intimate atmosphere? All of the above? And so it was that on the eve of my birthday, with cousin Q and his brother, who was in town but not free until nearly midnight, that I chose to go here for dinner. I don't always need a menu with 200 choices. Sometimes a restaurant that specializes in one item, with some variations, is just what I need. I know this isn't terribly exciting food, but I've always left with a warm, happy belly. And sometimes, that's all I need. My first visit occurred several weeks before with another cousin, who really loves hot pots, and her husband and baby. Umm, just a bit of advice, rambunctious babies around open flames are not a good idea. :P The individual hot pots start at $10.95 for beef, chicken, pork, or lamb. Add four shrimp and it's $12.95. Add two mussels and one scallop and it's $14.95. The veggies are all the same. And you have a choice of regular rice or a Japanese rice ball - wrapped in seaweed and filled with pork floss. If you've never had Chinese or Taiwanese hot pot before, it's basically flavored broths that you dip meat and veggies into. Japanese hot pot, or shabu shabu, is more likely to be plain water to cook the meat and several different dipping sauces. And of course, there's the Swiss fondue, with cheese. On my first visit, I ordered the kimchee hot pot. Clockwise from the hot pot, there's Japanese rice, a raw egg to crack into the hot pot, dipping sauce, and a plate of beef, veggies, and that long tube is fish paste.
Jazz Cat Cafe 1
I lifted the beef so you can see the various veggies, tofu, and vermicelli bean thread noodles.
Jazz Cat Cafe 2
And my kimchee hot pot merrily bubbling away.
Jazz Cat Cafe 3
The hot pots use sterno can gel for fire so there's no regulating the heat. Don't be greedy and put everything into the pot at once or else you'll get overboiled veggies and a flame that won't die. Now, you don't have to follow my method, but I've managed to portion my veggies so that it lasts until the flames die out. Wait until the hot pot starts boiling and then put in your veggies. Start with the hardest to cook veggies first such as squash and cabbage. Don't use all your cabbage, basically it serves to lower the temperature of the broth when it starts bubbling. Only add a few veggies at a time. The meat is sliced very thin so it only needs a quick dunking to cook. If the broth is boiling, add some cabbage to tone it down. By judiciously portioning your veggies, you should make it last until the flames die out. My cousin had chosen the sukiyaki hot pot with chicken. Blech! This is the second time I've had sukiyaki and both times the broth has been way, way too sweet for my taste. My cousin didn't care for it either.
Jazz Cat Cafe 4
Her husband ordered the Jazz Cat house special, which tasted like Chinese five-spice to me and also looked very much like the Japanese curry hot pot, which had a nice light curry flavor.
Jazz Cat Cafe 5
My favorite though is the Thai spicy hot pot. It actually looks much redder in person than in the picture. It's got pickled chili paste ie. sambal oelek, slightly spicy, sweet, fish sauce savoriness. While the other broths are fine for dipping, I actually slurp this hot pot as soup. And after trying this flavor with cousin Q and his brother, I went back a few days later with lil' sis because I was craving it again.
Jazz Cat Cafe 6
Lil' sis ordered the Taiwanese tossed noodles. Tasted like the house special hot pot, in other words, Chinese five-spice flavoring. You can also add various iced and milk tea drinks for $1.95 to $2.50 if you're ordering a hot pot or entree.
Jazz Cat Cafe 7
As for atmosphere, most of the tables are meant for two people and if you both order hot pots, that takes up the whole table. There are some booths on the other side, and a set of tables that are often pulled together for big groups. Head there for an early dinner and the wait isn't too bad. But any time between 8 to 10 p.m. and it may be upwards of 45 minutes waiting time.
Jazz Cat Cafe 8
And of course, since it is Jazz Cat Cafe, there's a memo board of various cats. A little freaky, but it did keep my cousin's baby entertained while I played with her so her parents could eat.
Jazz Cat Cafe 10
2007's birthday eats: Uzbekistan - Los Angeles (Closed) Perfectly Sweet - Alhambra Tagine - Beverly Hills Sunday Bistro - Alhambra Elite Restaurant (Dim Sum) - Monterey Park Who else ate at Jazz Cat Cafe? Henry Chan's Food Videos filmed his "bubbling cauldron." December 8, 2008 Update: On a recent visit, Jazz Cat Cafe no longer lets you cook tableside. Everything is cooked in the kitchen and then brought out. There is no longer a Japanese rice option and the egg is hard-boiled. The broth flavors are still good, but the hot pot experience isn't the same. :( A new location is being built on Valley Boulevard and Del Mar Avenue in San Gabriel. Supposedly, the burning hot pots will be available there. August 28, 2009 Update: Hot pots are no longer being served at all at this location. January 21, 2009 Update: This location has closed. See my post Jazz Cat Restaurant - San Gabriel for information on the new location. Jazz Cat Cafe 640 W. Valley Blvd., Ste. #A Alhambra, CA 91803 626-293-8999 Open Sunday to Thursday 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Quattro Porcini Pasta (Four Mushroom Pasta)

Updated from the archives October 10, 2013:

Since I was updating my Cream of Four Mushroom Soup post, it was time to update this recipe as well. The step-by-step photos are new, as was the addition of tomatoes. The recipe has been slightly updated with these changes. Original post below the photo.

Quattro Porcini Pasta 2

As I said in my Cream of Four Mushroom Soup post, you can get a second dish using the soup and with minimal additional cooking simply by adding in noodles and turning it into a pasta. But instead of four mushroom pasta, which just sounds so blase, doesn't "quattro porcini pasta" sound so much fancier? :P

Of course, you don't have to make the soup at all, you can just make a really huge pot of pasta.

I divided my soup in half and used half a package of fettuccine noodles for this dish (angel hair pasta in the updated version). Just add another tablespoon of cornstarch to the milk if you want an even thicker consistency for cream pasta. Top with Parmesan cheese and basil.

But in case you didn't read the cream of four mushroom soup post (and why wouldn't you?), this recipe is for a really large pot so halve it if you're only cooking for two.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Cream of Four Mushroom Soup

Updated from the archives October 10, 2013:

Cream of Four Mushroom Soup 7

Actually, these photos were shot in January 2011, so that tells you how long it takes me to get around to updating things. :P

My original recipe featured monkey head, shiitake, king oyster, and crimini mushrooms. The updated version features brown and white beech mushrooms, king oyster, and oyster mushrooms. This recipe is very easily adaptable to whatever mushrooms you prefer.

Original post after the jump, with updated step-by-step photos.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

On the Yin and Yang of Food, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Eating Bird Spit

Most people are familiar with the Chinese symbol of yin and yang (dark and light), and its idea of two mutually correlated opposites that balance each other. But how does that relate to food?

Growing up, my ba noi (Vietnamese paternal grandma) always told me not to eat too much of certain foods, specifically my beloved mangoes, because they would make me "hot" and thus, give me nose bleeds. To offset its effect she would feed me che dau xanh (Vietnamese dessert soup with green mung beans) because it was "cool." The Chinese concept of "food therapy" may seem a little unusual if you didn't grow up with it. Think of it this way, doesn't your body feel all gross if you've had too much fast food or deep-fried food or greasy food? And then think of how you feel so refreshed if you eat a slice of watermelon afterward? That's because the greasy food (the "yang") made your body "hot." Introducing watermelon (the "yin") brought your body back into balance again.

Wing Hop Fung Traditional Chinese Medicine Luncheon 1

Well, traditional Chinese medicine encompasses those ideas. So I was definitely intrigued when I was invited to a media luncheon to show various ways to incorporate traditional Chinese medicine into dishes.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Chao Hot Vit Bac/Bach Thao (Vietnamese Rice Porridge with Preserved/Century/Thousand-year Duck Egg)

I eeked out one more dish from my roast duck by boiling the carcass and making chao hot vit bac/bach thao (Vietnamese rice porridge with preserved/century/thousand duck egg). I know, I know, this is a Chinese dish too. :P (Any of my readers know if the bac refers to the north ie. Chinese-style? I know that bach is for century and thao refers to herb, or preservation method.)

Chao with Preserved Duck Egg 1

Preserved duck eggs aren't actually a century or even a thousand years old, but they sure look it eh? They're actually preserved with a mixture of clay, ash, salt, and lime. Modern methods don't require them to be coated in mud and buried in jars anymore. Think of that final scene in Amy Tan's "The Hundred Secret Senses."

The preservation leaves the albumen translucent and gelatinous, the yolk takes on a creamy, almost cheese-like quality.

I like to boil the duck carcass until the meat virtually falls off the bones, and the bones themselves turn the broth milky white. I prefer my porridge a bit on the thick side, so obviously add more liquid or less rice if you want a looser porridge. I add the chopped preserved duck eggs at the end so they don't become too mushy.

Chao with Preserved Duck Egg 2

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary and Duck Fat

Remember I said to save the duck fat from the fessenjan (Persian walnut pomegranate glaze with roast duck)? A while back I had read an article in the LA Times about duck fat roasted potatoes. While I normally roast potatoes in olive oil, this seemed a good a time as any to give duck fat a try. I like the sacks of purple, red, and white potatoes from Trader Joe's for $1.69 because they're cheap and the different potatoes give a slight variation in flavor. Plus, I like playing around with color when I'm cooking. :)
Roast Potatoes with Duck Fat 1
Add a few snips of rosemary from my garden.
Roast Potatoes with Duck Fat 2
And voila!
Roast Potatoes with Duck Fat 3
Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary and Duck Fat You'll need: Duck fat, a few tblsps Potatoes, however many and of whatever variety you wish, quartered However many sprigs of rosemary you wish, fresh if you have it, dried if you don't Salt Freshly ground black pepper Wash and chunk potatoes. While they're draining in a colander, generously salt the potatoes and shake the colander to evenly distribute the salt. Dump into an oven-safe pan. Pour leftover duck fat on top of the potatoes. Grind black peppercorns. Add rosemary sprigs. Set in oven at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes, remember to stir the pan every 15 minutes so that the potatoes are evenly browned and the duck fat coats all the potatoes. The duck fat added a slight "meatiness," if you will, to the taste of the potatoes. UnHipLA, who stayed and had a second helping of fessenjan, was so enamored with the duck that she brought over another sack of potatoes so I could roast them in the fat for her. Enjoy! Who else made duck fat roasted potatoes? Amy of Nook & Pantry made thyme and duck fat roasted potatoes. Evidently, duck fat is lower in fat than butter! ***** 1 year ago today, the first dragonfruits from my garden.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Fessenjan (Persian Walnut-Pomegranate Glaze with Roast Duck)

The Zafarani Polow (Persian Saffron Rice) made a colorful bed for the Fessenjan (Persian Walnut-Pomegranate Glaze with Cornish Game Hens), but a dusting of pomegranate seeds from my tree and the dish became a thing of beauty.

Fessenjan Roast Duck 1

I adapted my Fessenjan recipe for the glaze and used my Baked Chicken recipe to roast duck for the first time. The glaze worked perfectly and the skin was incredibly flavorful while the meat was moist and succulent. It was so good that after eating dinner, and eating slices of roast duck skin, my friend stayed around and ate a second dinner. :)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Zafarani Polow (Persian Saffron Rice)

Zafarani Polow (Persian Saffron Rice)

Lil' sis says I always have to "mother" someone. Since she's gone, and since I've never been able to cook for just one, my cousins or friends have been frequent dining companions. The only difference is that unlike lil' sis, my friends seem to really, really appreciate my cooking and they wash my dishes. Ha! Take that lil' sis! :P

I had a couple of very small Cornish game hens that I was going to make into Fessenjan (Persian Walnut Pomegranate Glaze) but never got around to cooking before lil' sis left town. My oldest uncle's wife had also given me a duck that had been sitting in my freezer. But before we get to that, and because I had just figured out the trick for cooking basmati rice, you'll need something to go with that fessenjan.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Letters from Lil' Sis

"That's it?" lil' sis said. "But I like it when you talk all about me." Well, since lil' sis apparently has quite a few fans among my readers, I thought I'd give you a little insight into "lil' sis." Plus, it's one more post all about her, which should make her plenty happy. As you know, she's "lil'" because she's quite a bit younger than me. And she constantly moans about how I "abandoned her" ie. left for college. Well, this was before the internet, or cell phones with free long distance, so occasional phone calls and old-fashioned letters were the primary means of contact for a poor college student and her baby sister. I've kept all her letters, and we chuckled over these last night. These were written when lil' sis was in kindergarten and first grade.
Letters from Lil Sis 1
Letters from Lil Sis 2
Letters from Lil Sis 3
Letters from Lil Sis 4
Letters from Lil Sis 5
Letters from Lil Sis 6
Letters from Lil Sis 7
Letters from Lil Sis 8
The cassette recorder was a short recording of my brother and lil' sis singing Happy Birthday! I still have it and it's incredibly cute with lil' sis goofing around and my brother admonishing her to "sing it right."
Letters from Lil Sis 9
Letters from Lil Sis 10
Letters from Lil Sis 11
Letters from Lil Sis 12
Letters from Lil Sis 13
Awww, wasn't lil' sis so cute? Alas, I was unable to find the whale drawing she sent me of a humpback whale. It's her favorite because it has a hump on its back. :P These days we're not separated by 2,000 miles, and I'm sure letters would be nice, but I think lil' sis appreciates the food I pack for her much more.