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Friday, July 30, 2010

Ask Wandering Chopsticks 11

What does the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Sumi represent?

Olympic Sumi from EatingClub Vancouver

That I recently met the lovely JS and TS of Eating Club Vancouver!

Thanks ladies for the cute souvenir, but the best gift was meeting you two! It's funny to meet blog friends in person. I know most of their likes and dislikes when it comes to food, but I didn't know simple details like what they do for a living. I love it when people turn out just as awesome in real life as they are on their blogs.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hu Tieu/Banh Pho Don Xao Bo (Vietnamese Crispy Rice Noodle Beef Stir-Fry)

Hu Tieu Banh Pho Don Xao Bo (Vietnamese Crispy Rice Noodle Beef Stir-Fry) 1

During college, my favorite Vietnamese restaurant was Cafe Nhu-Hoa on Argyle Street in Chicago's Little Vietnam. (I refuse to call the neighborhood New Chinatown. Grrrr!)

The owner, a friendly Vietnamese-Laotian woman made some of the best Laotian curries I've ever had. Actually, those were the only Laotian curries I've ever had. :P She also pan-fried wide rice noodles until they were crispy and then stir-fried them with a gravy-laden sauce. It was the best of both worlds -- crispy noodles with lots of flavor. I almost always ordered the noodles whenever I dined there.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pho Cuon Ha Noi (Vietnamese Rice Noodle Rolls Hanoi-Style)

Pho Cuon Ha Noi (Vietnamese Rice Noodle Rolls Hanoi-Style) 1

For the second time, my friend Don said he wished it was 2005 again.

I teased him yet again about how meeting me was the highlight of his life? :P

"I mean, sure you met me, but I'm still in your life?" I told him.

"Haha. Of course, chi (Vietnamese term of respect for older female)," he said.

Good answer! :P

Anyway, a few concerned IMs later and we briefly reminisced about our summer in Vietnam. Which led me to remember another memory from that summer and another tangential recipe I've had sitting in the queue.

This incident doesn't concern Don, but another friend.

We were circling Truc Bach Lake, trying to find a restaurant that served pho cuon (Vietnamese rice noodle rolls). We were on the right side of the lake -- the north, but the taxi driver kept driving around and around. We couldn't find the exact restaurant we were looking for so we finally just got out at a random pho cuon restaurant.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

French Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Beef, Fennel, and Rice

French Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Beef, Fennel, and Rice 1

I love fennel and happily eat it plain, in a salad, in a gratin, or in a quiche. But that's the bulb, and while I might toss in a few fennel fronds for appearances, the anise flavor is too strong to use much of them. So, the fennel fronds often end up chucked into the compost pile.

When I saw a stuffed cabbage recipe on Tongue in Cheek utilizing fennel fronds, I knew I had to try it. I added ground beef to my version, although I think keeping it vegetarian would be just fine since the tomato sauce and onions add plenty of flavor. Of course, I had to scale down the recipe because using six cups of olive oil and two pounds of rice seemed a bit much for one person. As it was, I still made a bunch of cabbage rolls and ended up freezing the filling to later liven up some vegetable soups.

I boiled these French Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Beef, Fennel, and Rice and ate them plain, but I think a light tomato sauce would work nicely too.

Friday, July 16, 2010

French Chicken with Mushrooms in Madeira Cream Sauce

French Chicken with Mushrooms in Madeira Cream Sauce 1

I bought a small stewing chicken at the grocery store and was in the mood for a nice braise. Even though summer isn't necessarily the best time to be cooking anything at length on the stove. Ah, but at midnight, when the temperature has cooled and the world is silent, a comforting stew of French Chicken with Mushrooms in Madeira Cream Sauce served with mashed potatoes seemed just the thing.

This recipe is the cheaper version of chicken with morels from Ina Garten/the Barefoot Contessa, which I stumbled upon via Alicia of Posie Gets Cozy. I used a combination of portobello and crimini mushrooms, although if you can afford morels, by all means use them. I substituted a few dollops of sour cream for the creme fraiche, although yogurt would work too if you wanted to lighten up the recipe. Because let's face it, a recipe that calls for butter, cream, and creme fraiche is way too rich and heavy for me. A lightened up version was much better for my pocketbook and my tastebuds.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dragon Fruit at Sunset

7.15 Dragon Fruit at Sunset 1

7.15 Dragon Fruit at Sunset 2

I wonder how many waterlilies Claude Monet painted? All these dragon fruit photos could be my artistic series. :P

Life Cycle of Thanh Long (Vietnamese Dragon Fruit). Dragon Fruit Literally Blooms in Hours. Dragon Fruit Bud. Dragon Fruit Blossom Extreme Close-up. Dragon Fruit Bumper Crop. And now, Dragon fruit at sunset.

Do you like the truncated photos above, or these elongated ones below?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Williams-Sonoma The Art of Preserving Cookbook Giveaway

Williams-Sonoma The Art of Preserving 3

Did you catch my cookbook review of "Williams-Sonoma The Art of Preserving" by Lisa Atwood, Rebecca Courchesne, and Rick Field? Please read that post for more information and pictures of this lovely cookbook on pickles and jellies.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Williams-Sonoma The Art of Preserving by Lisa Atwood, Rebecca Courchesne, and Rick Field

Williams-Sonoma The Art of Preserving 1

If you've been here long enough, you've probably figured out that I love pickles and pickled food. So when the folks at Andrea Burnett PR asked if I'd like to receive a free copy of "Williams-Sonoma The Art of Preserving" by Lisa Atwood, Rebecca Courchesne, and Rick Field, I immediately jumped at the chance.

"The Art of Preserving" includes more than 130 recipes for sweet and savory jams, jellies, marmalades, pickles, chutneys, relishes, and foods that use those ingredients. There's also information on the basics of home canning and pickling with tips in case various problems occur.

All that aside, this cookbook is simply gorgeous. As if the cover didn't lure me in enough, I immediately latched onto this recipe for pickled fennel.

Monday, July 12, 2010

AltaMed's 5th Annual East LA Meets Napa (Union Station) - Los Angeles (Downtown)

AltaMed's 5th Annual East LA Meets Napa (Union Station) - Los Angeles (Downtown) 1

I had such a great time at AltaMed's 4th Annual East LA Meets Napa celebration at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles that I was overjoyed to receive my own invite the following year from Alexia at Double A Public Relations & Marketing. I got a +1 too and invited my friend Don since his birthday was coming up, but he couldn't make it. So I asked my childhood friend since she works downtown. She had a sore throat, a result of a too tight neck hold during Brazilian jiu jitsu class, and couldn't comfortably eat, but she didn't want to miss the opportunity after I raved about it so much.

East LA Meets Napa is seriously one of the best food and wine events I've attended. I love almost every food stall and it introduces me to so many great new Mexican dishes and restaurants in SoCal. All proceeds from the event also benefit AltaMed's programs to provide care for underserved areas of Los Angeles and Orange Counties.

After seeing Gourmet Pigs' pictures of the gorgeous Attilla the Flan's floral creations, I was determined to hunt some down for myself this year.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Fish Piccata

Fish Piccata 1


... this recipe has been sitting around since November 2009.

That's not too long of a wait, right? :P

Quick and easy dinner. Just lightly breaded fish, fried, then a lemony caper sauce. I used one of those $1 frozen tilapia fish packets from Albertson's for this, but if I were to do it now, I'd more likely use frozen basa filets that you can buy in bags of multiples. Otherwise, the recipe is pretty basic and very simple.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Italian Portobello Mushroom Pasta

Italian Portobello Mushroom Pasta 1

If you love mushrooms as much as I do, sometimes you really don't need much else to enjoy them. A quick saute to soften the mushrooms with some chopped garlic and onions for flavor. Toss with plain pasta.

I used a few portobello mushrooms for this, although they're really just mature crimini mushrooms so you can use those instead if you'd like.

Now, the big question is, do you say portobello mushroom? Or portabella mushroom?

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Gluten-Free Nui Gao Xao Thap Cam (Vietnamese Combination Stir-Fried Rice Noodles)

Gluten-Free Nui Gao Xao Thap Cam (Vietnamese Combination Stir-Fried Rice Noodles) 1

While cruising the aisles at the Asian grocery store, I stumbled upon these rotini-shaped rice noodles. While round and flat rice noodles aren't unusual when it comes to Vietnamese cuisine, Italian-shaped rice noodles are a little less common. Although, really, since Vietnam has far more rice fields than wheat ones, this wasn't totally unexpected.

Like my Gluten-Free Cha Gio (Vietnamese Spring/Egg Rolls) recipe, there are plenty of Vietnamese dishes that are naturally gluten-free, but it doesn't hurt to make posts pointing that out for my non-Vietnamese readers. While this Vietnamese stir-fry could easily be made with longer Vietnamese rice noodles, the rice rotini noodles provided a nice variation. If you can't find any rice rotini noodles, you can substitute with wheat rotini if gluten isn't a concern.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Chao Ca (Vietnamese Rice Porridge with Fish)

Chao Ca (Vietnamese Rice Porridge with Fish) 1

There's something so comforting about a bowl of rice porridge. I've blogged it plain, with chicken, with ground pork, with preserved duck eggs, with leftover turkey, and with clams. The only meats left are with beef, duck, and fish. Although, thankfully, not together.

I prefer to make a good chicken broth stock for my Chao Ca (Vietnamese Rice Porridge with Fish) so that it's not quite so fishy. While you can use any fish on hand, I prefer white fish fillets for the milder flavor, but chose to use some leftover baked salmon so you can see it more easily in pictures. There's not much to it; once you've got your stock done, add flaked or chunks of fish and simmer until done. Add some thinly sliced ginger, sprigs of cilantro, or chopped scallions if you have any on hand.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Banh Mi Ca Moi (Vietnamese Sardine Sandwich)

Banh Mi Ca Moi (Vietnamese Sardine Sandwich) 1

I admit, I don't come across too many recipes for sardines. I love them; the savory, soft fish in tangy chili tomato sauce. I usually eat them the way my mom served them when I was growing up -- reheating the sardines in a small pan on the stove top and adding a few dashes of fish sauce for flavor. Then, I'd either stuff them into toasted Vietnamese-French bread or use the bread to mop up the fishy tomato sauce.

So really, that's not much of a recipe. Nor is it very photogenic. But there's no reason why you can't make a full Vietnamese sandwich with sardines, complete with pickled carrots and daikon, cucumber slices, and sprigs of cilantro. In fact, the fresh vegetables are the perfect pairing to balance the fishiness of sardines.