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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Persimmon Mini Bundt Cakes

Persimmon Mini Bundt Cakes 1

For my brother's Christmas Eve goose dinner, I wanted to make something a little more festive than just Persimmon Muffins. So I baked the other half of the batter into mini bundt cakes. Dusted with powdered sugar for a wintery effect.

Why yes, this is the exact same recipe as the persimmon muffins. :P Search engine optimization, yo! Plus, quickie post!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Persimmon Muffins

Persimmon Muffins 1

I made persimmon muffins to bring to my brother's Christmas Eve goose dinner. When persimmons are in season, and if you know someone who has a tree, then you know that when they ripen, you can't eat persimmons fast enough.

The big, pointy hachiya persimmons have to be very, very ripe before you can eat them. But once they're ripe, you can spoon them and eat them like pudding. I chose to mash them and make them into a couple of dozen muffins. You can also use the squat fuyu persimmons for this, just double the amount since they're smaller. Make sure the fuyus are also very ripe before doing so.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Goose Dinner

Christmas Eve Goose Dinner 1

For Christmas eve, my brother bought a roast goose for dinner. Comes from all the years of watching "A Christmas Carol, he said. Made him curious to find out what roast goose tasted like. I don't recall Ebenezer Scrooge bringing a goose to dinner?

He got it from Sham Tseng BBQ Shop - Monterey Park, which replaced Sam Woo. The goose was roughly the same size as a roast duck, and to be honest, tasted mostly like duck too, although a bit deeper in flavor. It was more than double the cost though!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chinese Ramen Noodle Stir-Fry with Cabbage, Carrots, Spam, and Eggs

Chinese Ramen Noodle Stir-Fry with Cabbage, Carrots, Spam, and Eggs 1

I think we've all have moments when it's late at night and we're too tired to get take-out or to go grocery shopping, but we're huuungry! It's at times like this that my pantry and fridge staples come in handy.

I almost always have ramen noodles on hand. Mostly, made into soup, but sometimes a quick noodle stir-fry hits the spot. The Spam is less a staple, usually purchased if it's on sale. I've taken to buying half sizes of Spam, because sometimes a whole can is too much. Cabbage, carrots, onions are frequent grocery store purchases because I use them in so many dishes.

Ramen noodle stir-fries remind me of when lil' sis was on the high school dance team. For one of the competitions, each team member brought her a package of ramen noodles. We cooked a couple dozen packages together and my mom made a gigantic ramen noodle stir-fry for lil' sis to bring to her teammates.

But, you don't have to be a teenager to enjoy ramen noodle stir-fries. Sometimes, comfort food is such because it's so very basic.

Monday, December 05, 2011


After a jam-packed day-and-a-half in Albuquerque, I was back in L.A. Since I decided to join my brother and his family in New Mexico sort of at the last-minute, I ended up taking a different flight back that arrived an hour before they did.


While waiting at the curb for my brother to pick me up, I noticed all the other people who got picked up too. The anxious faces of the drivers as they slowly drove along the curb and then their faces lighting up when they see their loved ones. The hugs and hand shakes that signified either close or just friendly relationships. As happy as those meetings are, I think the curbside pick-ups today pale in comparison to the meetings at the gate of before.

Years ago at O'Hare International Airport while waiting for a flight, I remember observing a young woman fluffing her hair while waiting for passengers to disembark from a flight. Then she decided to sit up high on the back of the chairs, the better for whomever she was waiting for to see her. She nervously crossed and recrossed her legs.

Was the reunion worth all that primping? I don't even remember. The anticipation was what lingered with me. To have someone that excited to see you, to be that excited about seeing someone. That was always the best part of being at the airport.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Turkey Quinoa Vegetable Soup

Turkey Quinoa Vegetable Soup 1

Now that you've made Turkey Stock, you can make soup. I've made Turkey Vegetable Soup plenty of times, but decided to go a little fancy by adding quinoa and some of my favorite vegetables such as, chayote squash, turnips, and leeks.

Quinoa, the Bolivian grain that's gained popularity, is packed with protein so you won't even miss the meat. You can swap out the turkey broth for vegetable broth and easily make this vegetarian.

I chop vegetables and add them to the pot as I go along, so the key is to start with harder vegetables that take longer to cook first. Then by the time I add in the tomatoes, I can enjoy a bowl of soup while waiting for the rest of the pot to cook.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Turkey Alphabet Soup

Turkey Alphabet Soup 1

There's something so comforting about a bowl of turkey noodle soup. With alphabet noodles, of course. Sometimes stars too. I would say it hearkens back to childhood, but my childhood soups were mostly Vietnamese broths with leafy vegetables.

Sure I've blogged Chicken Noodle Soup before, but this is turkey. Totally different! :P

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How to Make Basic Turkey Stock

How to Make Turkey Stock 1

After Thanksgiving dinner was over and the turkey was picked almost clean, there's not much else to do except make stock. I'm not of the mindset that you need to doctor much to make a basic turkey stock. Onions, carrots, and celery are nice additions, but if I'm going to add them to soup, then I just turn the whole pot into Turkey Vegetable Soup.

I just add water and simmer the bones for an hour or two to make a basic stock. I don't add salt until the broth has been simmering for a while because the turkey is already seasoned, so additional salt may be unnecessary.

The only two things to keep in mind are to keep the heat on low to medium-low if you'd like a clear broth to make soups such as Bun Mang Ga Tay (Vietnamese Rice Vermicelli Noodle Soup with Bamboo Shoots and Turkey) and Mi Ga Tay Tiem (Vietnamese Egg Noodle Soup with Chinese 5-Spice Turkey), or at medium-high to high heat if you want a milky broth to make Shichimenchou (Japanese Turkey Bone) Ramen. That's it.

Of course, you can also add lemongrass or spices or any other seasonings you wish, but the key to a good broth is more about heat level for whichever type of broth you want and let it simmer for a while, and skim to remove scum and other impurities.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Turkey Pot Pie with Puff Pastry

Turkey Pot Pie with Puff Pastry 10

What can I say about pot pies?

I've made traditional Chicken Pot Pie, varied it with Chicken Pot Pie with Cilantro Biscuits and Ca Ri Ga (Vietnamese Chicken Curry) Pot Pie. And when I'm feeling lazy, fall back to using puff pastry crust like with Bo Kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew) Pot Pie.

So when I'm feeling very lazy and have leftover turkey from Thanksgiving dinner, Turkey Pot Pie with Puff Pastry is the natural result.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

English Cottage Pie with Ground Beef and Mushrooms

English Cottage Pie with Ground Beef and Mushrooms 1

I've already blogged a regular English Cottage Pie with Ground Beef and Peas and Carrots, and Pate "Chinois" (Canadian "Chinese" Cottage Pie) with Ground Beef and Corn. So, I figured I'd change it up a bit by adding mushrooms.

Not much to say. It's a meal-in-one, or a great side dish for Thanksgiving dinner.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tater Tot Casserole with Chicken Pot Pie Filling

Tater Tot Casserole with Chicken Pot Pie Filling 1

Tator tot casserole. Abomination or genius?

What's not to love?

Roast chicken.


Cream of mushroom soup.


Crispy tater tots.


Cheesy crust.


Actually, I should point out that my version differs from the majority of recipes I've found online, which have a filling of ground beef, cheddar cheese, cream of mushroom soup, and sour cream. Where are the vegetables? For that matter, it already sounded too similar to the English Cottage Pie with Ground Beef and Mushrooms I was already making for Thanksgiving dinner. So I decided to use a basic Chicken Pot Pie filling. My tater tot casserole with chicken pot pie filling was a hit, just a spoonful was left at the end of the night.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Roast Turkey with Rosemary and Sage Salt Rub

Roast Turkey with Rosemary and Sage Salt Rub 1

Except for 2008, when I ordered a Chinese barbecued turkey to incorporate into my Asian-inspired Thanksgiving menu, the basic Salt Rub and Butter Turkey has been my staple recipe for years. And even though it has been good every single time, I wanted to change it up a notch.

Remembering the rosemary and sage salt sample I got from Woody's Gourmet on Day 145, I decided adding a bit of herbs to the salt sounded pretty delicious. The sample was only 1/2 teaspoon though. Way too little for a 15-lb turkey. So I added some more dried rosemary and sage from my spice cabinet into the salt rub. I didn't go overboard with the spices since I didn't want them to burn while the turkey was baking for so many hours. The result was the usual perfectly crispy skin and juicy turkey that the salt rub always produces with just a hint of rosemary and sage.

Way easier to make than the Rosemary Olive Oil Turkey Marinade I made back in 2005.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving 1

Happy Thanksgiving!

I was feeling decidedly lazy this year and only planned on roasting the turkey and making Homemade Turkey Gravy from the drippings. I asked the middle '87 to make the mashed potatoes and stuffing. Her mom, my youngest uncle's wife, brought Vietnamese desserts. The older '88 brought pasta salad. Her mom, my youngest aunt, brought over Thit Heo Nuong (Vietnamese Grilled Pork). Cousin A and her husband provided drinks. The younger '88 sent over the cute turkey cake pops. And my friend DP stopped by later with apple and pumpkin pies and a souvenir for me from Brazil.

Since my cousins alleviated my worries about the main side dishes, I decided to make Cottage Pie with Ground Beef and Mushrooms and Tator Tot Casserole.

The main course was a 15.6-lb Roast Turkey with Rosemary and Sage Salt Rub.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Flying Cauldron Butterscotch Beer

Flying Cauldron Butterscotch Beer 1

Shortly before Halloween, I was contacted by Emily Straubel of Reed's Inc. asking if I'd like to sample its Flying Cauldron Butterscotch Beer. I'm a fan of Reed's Ginger Brew and Virgil's Root Beer, so I eagerly agreed to sample its butterbeer, I mean, butterscotch beer.

While Flying Cauldron Butterscotch Beer isn't affiliated with Harry Potter, there are plenty of allusions. The flyer said, "Taste the magic of a wizard’s buttery, vanilla, cream soda brew. Since 1374, the Flying Cauldron has been making this magical brew for under-aged wizards, and wizards who are young at heart, at their brew pub in Hogsbreath, England."

Not Hogsmeade, but Hogsbreath. Not the Leaky Cauldron, but Flying Cauldron. Not butterbeer, but butterscotch beer.

It's not affiliated with Harry Potter. Got that?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Healthier Brown Fried Rice with Broccoli and Chicken

Healthier Brown Fried Rice with Broccoli and Chicken 1

In an effort to eat healthier, I sometimes switch to brown rice. I like the firmer texture and slight "pop" as I bite into each grain. And while replacing white rice with brown rice doesn't really need a specific recipe, I thought it'd be nice to come up with fried rice recipe that would be healthier for you. This recipe would be right at home at P.F. Chang's or any Chinese-American kitchen.

I would say it's healthy, but I'm sure someone will debate the nutritional value of rice, even if it's brown. Or chicken, even if it's breast meat. Or eggs, even if you used all whites, which I didn't.

So! Healthier fried rice if you will.

With broccoli.

Because no one will argue with me that broccoli isn't healthy?

And in the run-up to Thanksgiving, perhaps a slightly healthier meal is in order before you indulge?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

North, South, and East


One of my college friends was in town for her maternal grandmother's funeral, which was held at SkyRose Chapel at Rose Hills Memorial Park & Mortuaries in Whittier. I've never been inside the chapel, though my ba noi (Vietnamese paternal grandmother) and oldest uncle, as well as countless others from my hometown are buried at this cemetery.

Does it look familiar? Will you think I'm a complete nerd when I tell you that I recognized it as the filming location for the scene in "Star Trek" where Spock informed the Vulcan Science Academy that he was going to attend Starfleet Academy instead?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Reunion, a Wedding, a Birthday, and a Michael Jackson Impersonator

September 365 - A Reunion, a Wedding, a Birthday, and a Michael Jackson Impersonator

Roses salvaged from a wilted centerpiece from cousin D's wedding.

September was a busy month. I reconnected with my college roommate, celebrated my cousin's wedding with the family, celebrated Pablo's 2nd birthday with the family, and had jury duty at the same courthouse as the trial for Michael Jackson's doctor, Conrad Murray.

Luckily work slowed down a bit this month to make room for all that activity.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Che Bap Tim (Vietnamese Purple Corn Pudding)

Che Bap Tim (Vietnamese Purple Corn Pudding) 1

Considering how much I love purple foods, it's not surprising that I got excited when I saw these ears of purple corn at the 99 Ranch Market - Monterey Park. And at three for $1.17, I promptly bought sets for my aunts and uncles and my friend DP, who loves corn too. Plus, she dropped off some jackfruit and her GPS for me to borrow for a road trip, so purple corn was a small thank you.

Despite the label at the market, the corn was more reddish-violet than purple, and when cooked, it just became gray. Well, shades of gray. Not quite the same color as making Vietnamese corn pudding with yellow corn.

I've already blogged Che Bap (Vietnamese Corn Pudding) years ago, but used powdered coconut milk for that recipe. So for the purple corn, I decided to cook it all in canned coconut milk. The result was a much thicker pudding so use powder or canned coconut milk according to your preference. But does it really matter? Corn, coconut, tapioca, all my favorite ingredients in one dessert.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Hot Pot, Hot Pot! - Monterey Park

Hot Pot, Hot Pot! - Monterey Park 1

Shortly after I dined at Little Fat Sheep - Monterey Park, the owner divested the franchise, turning several of his locations into Happy Sheep Cafe Shabu & Grill - San Gabriel and Happy Sheep Cafe - Rowland Heights. He sold this location to one of the employees, who changed its name to Hot Pot, Hot Pot!

So different owner, but same employees. My friend DP and I decided to check it out one night to see if the food quality was the same too.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Sarita's Pupuseria Salvadorean Food (Grand Central Market) - Los Angeles (Downtown)

On my fourth turn at jury duty, I had to report to Los Angeles County Superior Court, which coincided with Day 2 of the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, Michael Jackson's doctor who was accused of prescribing the medication that caused his death. Apparently, getting assigned to the downtown courthouse gets some people excited because of the nearby eats. Personally, I prefer Alhambra Superior Court -- closer to home, easier parking, and better eats.

Nonetheless, I was excited for the opportunity to check out Grand Central Market during the lunch break, and in particular, Sarita's Pupuseria Salvadorean Food.

Sarita's Pupuseria Salvadorean Food (Grand Central Market) - Los Angeles (Downtown) 1

But before we get to lunch, let's backtrack a bit to that morning.

Jury duty parking was underneath the Walt Disney Concert Hall; amazing building, a pain to find the specific entrance needed for the assigned parking. Then I had to rush down Bunker Hill to make it inside the courthouse in time.

As I approached the courthouse, I saw a media circus with video cameras and protesters gathered in front. You'll have to excuse the blurry photo. My point and shoot camera had a smear on the lens and my attempts to wipe only made it even more blurry. The hazy effect seemed only too apropos for the surreal atmosphere.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Apple Puff Pastry Turnovers

Apple Turnovers 1

If you have any puff pastry leftover from making Semarang-Style Turnovers with Bamboo Shoots, Dried Shrimp, and Scrambled Eggs, then you can make dessert too. Actually, in real life, the Apple Puff Pastry Turnovers preceded the savory ones, but in blog life, I try to make the recipes more sequential.

These turnovers are great if you're craving apple pie, but are too lazy to make the dough. I guess you could use pre-made pie crust too, but there's just something about these flaky, hand-sized turnovers that make them more fun to eat.

I made them to bring to my youngest aunt's house for my paternal grandfather's death anniversary dinner and they disappeared in a jiffy.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Indonesian Semarang-Style Turnovers with Bamboo Shoots, Dried Shrimp, and Scrambled Eggs

Indonesian Semarang-Style Turnovers with Bamboo Shoots, Dried Shrimp, and Scrambled Eggs 1

I had just a bit of filling left over from making Lumpia Semarang (Indonesian Egg Rolls with Bamboo Shoots, Dried Shrimp, and Scrambled Eggs) to fold them into a few puff pastry turnovers. Waste not, want not!

I've included the original measurements for the egg rolls, in case you wanted to make those and use the leftover filling for turnovers like I did. Or you can certainly make a batch of turnovers only if you don't feel like doing any deep-frying.

The filling freezes well so you can easily divide the batch and save it for when you have a craving.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lumpia Semarang (Indonesian Egg Rolls with Bamboo Shoots, Dried Shrimp, and Scrambled Eggs)

Indonesian Lumpia Semarang with Bamboo Shoots, Dried Shrimp, and Scrambled Eggs 1

When Mochachocolata-Rita showed off her mother's Lumpia Semarang, I was intrigued at the mention of bamboo shoots, dried shrimp, and scrambled eggs in the ingredients. Semarang is the capital city in central Java with a large population of Chinese Indonesians, which would explain the pork in Rita's mother's version of lumpia. Although, I imagine ground turkey or chicken would work too for the Muslim population in Indonesia.

Lumpia, dervies from lunpia, the Hokkien Chinese word for popiah, which are fresh spring rolls. As Hokkien immigrants migrated throughout Southeast Asia, variations of popiah arose. In Vietnam, popiah became Bo Bia (Vietnamese Spring Rolls with Chinese Sausage, Jicama, and Eggs).

Lumpia Semarang can be eaten fresh or fried. In the former case, obviously all the ingredients would need to be cooked first before wrapping. As I was making the latter though, I opted to use raw ground pork and to slice the bamboo shoots into strips to bind the filling ingredients better so nothing falls out when one bites into the egg roll. I soaked the dried shrimp to soften it, then put it in the food processor to break up in smaller pieces, similar to how Vietnamese people make dried shrimp topping for dumplings. I used a generous tablespoon of Indonesian kecap manis in the marinade since the Wikipedia article on lumpia mentioned that Lumpia Semarang were supposed to be on the sweeter side. Then it was a simple matter of wrapping and frying egg rolls as normal.

The taste was a nice umami earthiness from the dried shrimp and bamboo shoots. I served the egg rolls with bottled sweet chili sauce. Quite a nice change from my usual Cha Gio/Nem Ran (Vietnamese Spring/Egg Rolls), so I hope you give these a try.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Nem Nuong Cu Sen (Vietnamese Grilled Lotus Root Pork Patties)

Nem Nuong Cu Sen (Vietnamese Grilled Lotus Root Pork Patties) 1

It only took three+ years, but I finally got around to making my own version of lotus root cakes after eating them at Tasty Garden - Alhambra. The only similarity though is the chopped lotus roots in the pork patty. Other than that, these are really Vietnamese lotus root pork patties.

After playing around with my usual Nem Nuong (Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patties) recipe by adding scallions and making Nem Nuong Hanh La (Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patties with Scallions), I decided to use that as the base. A little less sweet than the usual nem nuong though, with chopped lotus roots mixed in with the pork and thinly sliced lotus roots on both sides for presentation. I then sprinkled the plate with Cu Sen Chien (Vietnamese Fried Lotus Root Chips) since the plate was looking decidedly brown.

The lotus roots added a nice crunch to the pork patties. If you can't find any lotus roots where you are, I think jicama would make a good substitute. I think that's enough nem nuong posts for a while. :P

Monday, September 19, 2011

Nem Nuong (Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patty) Sliders

Nem Nuong (Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patty) Sliders 1

Since my hometown's style of making Nem Nuong (Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patties) already resembled little hamburger patties, it wasn't that much of a leap to put them in between Hawaiian bread rolls and turn them into sliders, but I wanted to carry it further. I wanted to put what I loved about the rice paper roll into a bun.

Do I add cornstarch to the dipping sauce and make it even thicker? Still too gloppy. And do Vietnamese herbs really go with bread? Not really. Do I fold the empty wrapper into a big square instead of a roll like I do for nem nuong? But a bun doesn't contain the crispy bits as well as a rice paper roll.

I was overthinking it, a basic nem nuong cuon just has the meat, lettuce, and a crispy bit in the middle.

So I cut an egg roll wrapper into fourths and fried them crispy and stuck them into the bun. It reminded me of upscale hamburger places that had a crispy Parmesan chip inside the burger.

Biting into my nem nuong slider, I got juicy meat, I got lettuce, I got a lightly crispy bit to contrast with it all.


I wolfed down several sliders right away and made another batch a few days later when my parents came to town. The only caveat is that the fried egg roll wrapper gets soggy quickly so eat these right away.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bun Nem Nuong Cha Gio (Vietnamese Rice Vermicelli Noodles with Grilled Pork Patties and Egg Rolls)

Bun Nem Nuong Cha Gio (Vietnamese Rice Vermicelli Noodles with Grill Pork Patties and Egg Rolls) 1

Now that you've made Nem Nuong Hanh La (Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patties with Scallions), let's assemble it all together into a Vietnamese restaurant favorite -- bun (Vietnamese rice vermicelli noodle bowl).

Pictured is the nem nuong hanh la with Cha Gio Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Egg/Spring Rolls), but it can be any kind of egg rolls you wish, or none at all. Add some vegetables and herbs, and douse everything with Nuoc Mam Cham (Vietnamese Fish Dipping Sauce) and you've got a complete meal in one bowl.

This is really more of an assembly list than a recipe. Add more noodles or meat if you want a heartier meal. Add more lettuce or herbs if you want it to be more of a salad during hot summer months. You can also lay out the components separately and have each person assemble his or her own bowl.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Nem Nuong Hanh La (Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patties with Scallions)

Nem Nuong Hanh La (Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patties with Scallions) 1

Sometimes I get amazed at how the addition of one ingredient can change up a dish. I was making Nem Nuong and Nem Nuong Cuon (Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patty and Vietnamese Grilled Pork Patty Salad Rolls) as usual when I decided to add in some minced scallions to the mix. The green scallions added a bright freshness to the meatballs.

I've made Nem Nuong Xa (Vietnamese Lemongrass Grilled Pork Patties), which obviously would taste different since lemongrass is quite strong. I guess I didn't expect green onions to have such an impact. Total game changer. Why had this never occurred to me before?

I ate some of the nem nuong wrapped in rice paper, but made up a noodle bowl for the rest. I added some Cha Gio Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Egg/Spring Rolls) since I had those on hand, which actually worked out well since the vegetarian egg rolls offset the amount of meat I was eating.

Just a simple adjustment to an old recipe, but definitely a big difference in flavor.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cha Gio Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Egg / Spring Rolls)

Cha Gio Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Egg Spring Rolls) 1

After working too many hours this summer, eating out too often, eating too much junk, and just, in general, not eating well, I craved vegetables and simple Vietnamese food. Nothing elaborate. Just some cold noodles. Grilled meats. Perhaps a few egg rolls to toss into the bowl.

My standard Cha Gio (Vietnamese Egg/Spring Rolls) were fine, but I had been wanting to challenge myself to come up with a tasty vegetarian version for a while. My mom made vegetarian egg rolls long ago for my Chinese grandfather's first year death anniversary, in which the whole meal is supposed to be vegetarian. All I remembered were the vermicelli noodles, which were quite dry and crunchy because they didn't have anything substantial to latch on to. I don't count the cheap cabbage-only fillers at Chinese buffets. Recently, at my oldest uncle's 49th day death anniversary, the Buddhist temple had an excellent version with shredded taro root.

So in creating my recipe, I knew that I wanted to add some tofu for moisture. Instead of taro, I used a small yam. Have you seen the sizes of taro that are sold at the supermarket? They're just way too big for one person and I didn't want food to go to waste. But other than that, the traditional cha gio ingredients of Nam Meo (Vietnamese Tree Ear Fungus), bean thread vermicelli noodles, and carrots suited me just fine. The main trick then was pressing the tofu to reduce as much liquid as possible so that the egg rolls don't get soggy.

The result? These vegetarian egg rolls were so good that I didn't even see them as a meat substitute, but as a separate recipe all their own. And isn't that how it should be? Not a substitute; just good.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Blueberries, Long Days, and Vacillating Victuals

Picking Blueberries in Oregon

Last year, my siblings and I weren't able to take a family trip home to Oregon. The niece was still too young and lil' sis ran the Disneyland Half Marathon. This summer we made it a point to sync up our schedules and came home for several days in August.

Aside from that, August was mostly a blur of long days at work and too much bad food because I was either too hot or too tired to cook.

Friday, September 09, 2011

One Pomegranate. Singular.

9.9 One Pomegranate. Singular. 1

Two years ago, I had about half a dozen pomegranates on my tree. Last year, they were only about an inch or two in size. :( So I was really excited this year to see about three that were almost 3 inches in diameter.

Only, when I cut it open, that's what I saw above. The seeds never even formed! Have you ever seen the like before?

Still, I was hopeful since there was one decent-sized pomegranate left on the tree.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Mama's Lu Dumpling House - Monterey Park

Mama's Lu Dumpling House - Monterey Park 1

For a while a few years ago, Right Way to Eat kept trying to convince me to try other dumpling houses, but I wasn't willing to give up my favorite -- Luscious Dumplings, Inc. - San Gabriel. Well, I've certainly tried other dumpling houses, I just refused to relinquish the title of "favorite" to any other. :)

After going back and forth on various places, we decided to eat at Mama's Lu Dumpling House in Monterey Park. This was partly because it's owned by the daughter of the original mama Lu herself of Dean Sin World - Monterey Park fame, and partly because I was curious about the restaurant that replaced Heavy Noodling, which I liked more for its name than its knife-cut noodles.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Chinese Sauteed Lettuce with Oyster Sauce

Chinese Sauteed Lettuce with Oyster Sauce 1

I bought a bag with three heads of romaine lettuce that I intended to eat with my homemade Caesar Salad Dressing, but I was feeling too lazy to run to the store to buy anchovies and Parmesan cheese. Plus, there was all that mincing and chopping.

I've always much preferred to eat my vegetables via soups rather than salads, but it was late August, the dog days of summer, and I was in the midst of working 12 days in a row. Exhausted! Hungry!

I needed vegetables and I needed them in minutes. So recalling that I wanted to try making the cooked lettuce I ate at Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant - Rosemead and, more recently, at Mama's Lu Dumpling House - Monterey Park, I decided to treat lettuce like I treat most vegetables -- I sauteed it with just a bit of oyster sauce.

Oh my!

It was so good that I made it again a few nights later.

Cooked, lettuce has a lovely sweetness that's enhanced with oyster sauce. Just saute it until wilted so the lettuce retains its crispness. Perfect as a complement to many dishes, but I ate this as a meal with rice and salmon.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Chinese Shanghai Noodles with Ground Pork, Spinach, and Onions

Shanghai Noodles with Ground Pork, Spinach, and Onions 1

As I was sorting through the photos for my Vegetarian Shanghai Noodles with Spinach and Onions recipe, I realized that although the photos weren't awful, I could do a lot better. Plus, it made me crave the thick Shanghai noodles again and it had been a long while since I made them. This time around, I decided to add ground pork, just 1/4 lb, but it made the dish so much better.

The noodles were so good that I made them again the following week when lil' sis came home, but that second time, I used thick chow mein noodles, and they just weren't quite the same. Still, she loved this dish so much that she killed off the whole pan, taking some home to polish off later.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Chinese Vegetarian Shanghai Noodles with Spinach and Onions

Vegetarian Shanghai Noodles with Spinach and Onions 1

This quick and easy recipe has been buried in my queue since November 2008. Too simple I thought, but then sometimes we all need simple.

It's based upon similar Shanghai noodles that I've eaten at J&J Restaurant - San Gabriel and Mei Long Village - San Gabriel. If you like the chewy toothsomeness of thick noodles, then you need little else except a bit of vegetables and oyster sauce.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Dai Ho Restaurant - Temple City

Dai Ho Restaurant - Temple City 1

In August 2007, I joined lil' sis and her best friend for lunch at Dai Ho Restaurant in Temple City. The owner has been dubbed the "Noodle Nazi" for his brief noodle menu and short hours. Which was news to lil' sis's best friend, who's been dining at the restaurant since he was a kid. He said the owner has always been nice to him.

How bad could the owner be? And just how good were his noodles?

Well, on my two visits, the owner wasn't there because he was battling some health issues. As for the latter, apparently the noodles were so good that a Los Angeles Times reporter stole my photo and uploaded it onto his personal Facebook page without acknowledging that the "two thumbs up" in the picture weren't, in fact, his thumbs at all.

On my first visit, we arrived shortly after opening. Dai Ho is only open for three and a half hours a day for lunch.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

How to Julienne Carrots and Other Vegetables

How to Julienne Carrots and Other Vegetables 1

During our lunch at Young Dong Tofu - San Gabriel, Pink Candles at Ridgemont High and I were talking about julienning vegetables. Was it when the Korean Cold Buckwheat Noodle Salad was brought out and we were admiring the artfully arranged platter? Or was it a discussion of cooking techniques in general?

In any case, I was telling her how I do it, and wondered whether I should blog such things. And she said I should since she didn't know. So, in case you'd like to slice your carrots or other vegetables like how I do mine, so you get something like this...

Friday, September 02, 2011

Jaengban Gooksu (Korean Cold Buckwheat Noodle Salad)

Jaengban Gooksu (Korean Cold Buckwheat Noodle Salad) 1

I liked the Korean cold noodle salad at Young Dong Tofu - San Gabriel so much that I recreated it later at home. After recently coming across the photos of Ding's Garden - Alhambra and the noodle dishes there, I decided to add shredded roast chicken to my version. Not that you need to add meat, this cold noodle salad works well if you keep it all vegetarian too.

A perfect light dinner for those long hot summer days.

I used green tea buckwheat noodles because that's what I had in the pantry, but regular soba noodles or Korean arrowroot noodles will work too.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Ding's Garden - Alhambra (Closed)

Ding's Garden - Alhambra 1

Speaking of cold noodles, and in my attempt to clear out old photos by reorganizing them by date, I stumbled upon these pictures taken on June 13, 2007 of Ding's Garden in Alhambra. I usually try to visit a place at least twice before blogging it, but the restaurant closed before I got around to it.

Besides being a loose online diary of what I ate, the pictures sometimes remind me of dishes that I'd like to recreate later.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Young Dong Tofu - San Gabriel

Young Dong Tofu - San Gabriel 1

Earlier this summer, I met up with Pink Candles at Ridgemont High and her family, who were up to check out the Harry Potter Tribute Exhibition at Nucleus Art Gallery & Store - Alhambra. She wanted to eat cold noodles for lunch. After running through Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese cold noodle options, she decided on Korean.

I suggested Young Dong Tofu in San Gabriel because the menu specifically has a dish called Korean cold noodles. I know, so generic-sounding, but it was exactly what she asked. :P

Young Dong Tofu is located in a strip mall on Las Tunas Drive where Tokyo Lobby and Sam Woo BBQ are also. Unfortunately, ever since the Albertson's grocery store closed and got boarded up, the area has a rather desolate feel.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pork Ribs with Gochujang and Samjang (Korean Chile and Soy Bean Pastes)

Pork Ribs with Gochujang and Samjang (Korean Chile and Soy Bean Pastes) 1

I feel a little guilty posting this recipe since it really consists of just combining two items -- gochujang and samjang (Korean chile and soy bean pastes). But really, the beauty of this simple recipe is that both the chile and soy bean pastes are already seasoned so you don't need to add anything extra.

I like to bake my ribs for tender, fall-off-the-bones ribs, but if you want to grill them, you can easily start them off in the oven first. This recipe is perfect for when you're in the mood for some Korean barbecue or for flavorful ribs, but don't want to mess with fussy marinades.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How to Make a Homemade 3-Tiered Cupcake Stand

How to Make a Homemade 3-Tier Cupcake Stand 1

Remember back when I made the 2-tiered cupcake stand for cousin A's bridal shower, I said that cousin D perked up at the mention of cake stands too?

Gosh, before I knew it, nearly a year has flown by and it was time to make another set of cake and cupcake stands for yet another cousin's bridal shower. This time, because I've had several homemade cake and cupcake stands under my belt, I've gotten kinda good at this. That and the longer lead time gave me plenty of chances for more trips to the thrift store, and plates and candlesticks to stockpile.

Do you know how hard it is to find a salad dish-sized glass plate at the thrift store?

Virtually impossible for some reason.

So this is the first time I've been able to make a 3-tiered cupcake stand. And I have to say, this may be my best one yet.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Breakfast for Dinner, Paris On My Mind, and the Last Harry Potter

Breakfast for Dinner

On February 3, 2009, at 11:40 p.m., I made breakfast for dinner. I really have no idea why I took this photo except that I'm so used to taking photos of everything that I just do it out of habit. It's not like this picture included anything that I was going to blog.

Well, I long ago already blogged Banh Mi Op La (Vietnamese French Bread with Sunny Side Up Eggs). So the few squirts of Maggi Seasoning Sauce on the eggs and the rather craptastic photo wouldn't have had anything to do with updating that recipe's photos. I'm not even sure what recipe I used for that pancake. Singular. I hope I hadn't finish all this because that's a lot of food to eat in one sitting.

Breakfast for breakfast is just too much food too early in the day for me. Such is what I remember from someone I dated in college who was fond of breakfast for late night. Or perhaps that was more because we'd study until the library closed at midnight, and there weren't too many food options at that hour. So IHOP it was. I wonder if I had some deeper thoughts about breakfast for dinner that I wanted to impart way back when and that's why I took the photo?

Not that my eating habits in college have much to do with anything except that July was a busy month. And on busy days, sometimes all I have time to make for dinner are a couple of eggs. But these days, they tend to be quickly scrambled and eaten with rice.

I've been thinking about my undergrad experience a lot lately. That and some of the places I've been. Partly because of the loss of a former student this month and thinking about everything that I experienced that she'll never get to. And partly because I miss Chicago. And traveling. I miss traveling a lot.

I'm halfway through a year of chronicling every day of my life now. Well, between Day 182 and Day 183 is the halfway point anyway. And all I have to show for it is what I already know. I like food, books, and naps.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Ga Nuong La Chanh (Vietnamese Grilled Chicken in Kaffir Lime Leaves)

Ga Nuong La Chanh (Vietnamese Grilled Chicken in Kaffir Lime Leaves) 1

I meant to post this recipe at the same time as when I made Tom Nuong Hanh Ngo (Vietnamese Grilled Shrimp with Scallion Cilantro Sauce) and Thit Nai Nuong Xa (Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Venison) since those dishes were all served at the same dinner party held shortly after my trip to the Bay Area. But those initial photos were really horrible and I wanted to try making the recipe again anyway. Who knew it would be almost two years before I would eventually get around to it?

I first heard of Ga Nuong La Chanh (Vietnamese Grilled Chicken in Kaffir Lime Leaves) from Highway 4 Restaurant in Vietnam. Or rather, Kirk of Mmm-yoso had dined there back in April 2008 and ordered other dishes, but I was curious about the restaurant and checked out their menu on their website. I couldn't find a recipe that I liked for this dish, so I came up with my own. If anyone has eaten this dish at Highway 4 or at anywhere else, you'll have to tell me how my recipe compares.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tom Yum Fried Rice with Shrimp Roe and Kaffir Lime Leaves

Tom Yum Fried Rice with Shrimp Roe and Kaffir Lime Leaves 1

In the interests of clearing out old pictures, this Tom Yum Fried Rice with Shrimp Roe and Kaffir Lime Leaves dates back to November 2009. I was trying to figure out why I had so many shrimp heads and shells on hand and none of the recipes taken around that time revealed any clues. So I must have already blogged whatever it was I was cooking with all that shrimp.

I normally save the heads and shells of shrimp to use as stock in such dishes as Tom Yum Goong (Thai Hot and Sour Shrimp Soup) because they add so much flavor. That particular day though I was looking for something different, and remembering Miss.Adventure at Home's post about braising shrimp heads with rice and Blazing Hot Wok's Southeast Asian Rice Pilaf, I decided to make Tom Yum in a rice dish instead. So basically the Tom Yum ingredients -- shrimp heads, shrimp, chilies, lime juice, and kaffir lime leaves -- but stir-fried with rice.

The result was a very briny, fragrant rice. If I had to re-do this dish again though, I'd either drastically cut down on the shrimp shells, using only a few shrimp heads for the roe, or just stick with peeled shrimp. Because while the shrimp shells added so much flavor to the rice, it was a pain to pick out while eating. Of course, then you'd miss out on the gorgeous red color the shrimp roe added to the rice. It's a trade-off. The strips of kaffir lime leaves and a squeeze of fresh lime juice at the end helped offset the brininess of the shrimp.

So of course, it probably would have been easier to re-do the pictures with those recipe changes, but I just loved seeing the shrimp heads sticking out of the red rice. Haha. I know, I'm weird. Alternatively, if you want to skip using shrimp heads, just substitute with a tablespoon or two of Tom Yum paste.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Kaffir Lime Leaves

Kaffir Lime Leaves

I don't have much to say about kaffir lime leaves since I don't use it too much in my cooking. Kaffir lime leaves add a lovely citrus note to many curries and seasonings without making the food taste too sour. I associate the leaves mainly with Thai cuisine, although there's a random Vietnamese and Indonesian recipe thrown in as well.

The double leaves of the kaffir lime are a little thicker than normal lemon leaves, although in a pinch, I've used Meyer lemon leaves off my uncle's tree with no problems. The leaves can be left whole to stew in curries, or finely chiffonaded and added as a garnish.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken

Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken 1

I've said it before many times that I have so many sets of photos that I could not cook or dine out for an entire year and still have something to blog every day. My photos were alphabetized since I tend to blog thematically, but too many posts got buried that way. Recipes languished and restaurants closed before I ever got around to blogging them. So I recently sorted my photos again, this time by date. And lo and behold, this Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken recipe from February 2008 popped up.

I had made this around the same time that I made and blogged my Taiwanese Popcorn Tofu and Japanese Chicken Karaage recipes, but wasn't quite satisfied with the recipe for some reason. But these photos, even taken with the old point and shoot camera, don't look half bad. The texture was fine, I just couldn't figure out exactly the right spices to make it taste like what I get at the tea houses. But here you go anyway, my almost forgotten Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken recipe.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Le Arbre Tea House - Rosemead

Le Arbre Tea House - Rosemead 1

Back in March, Tony of SinoSoul and his missus went to check out the mango shaved ice at Le Arbre Tea House in Rosemead. They invited me to join them since the shaved ice will be too big for the two of them to finish. So off I went, looking to find another tea house to replace my usual spot at Tapioca Express Inc. - San Gabriel.

This next photo is pretty hilarious, but if you're easily offended, just bypass it and go down to the third photo.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Half and Half Tea House - Monterey Park

After dinner at Noodle Guy Vietnamese Restaurant - Alhambra my brother wanted to try Half & Half Tea House in Monterey Park because he had heard us talk about it.

Half & Half Tea House - Monterey Park 1

Mostly because the tea is fresh-brewed, comes in giant cups, and is cheaper than Tea Station - Alhambra. Those are my and my siblings' pudding tea, passionfruit tea, and milk teas above.

Those are Half & Half Tea House's normal size cups.


Saturday, August 06, 2011

Noodle Guy Vietnamese Restaurant - Alhambra

Noodle Guy Vietnamese Restaurant - Alhambra 1

Back in January, on my way to Jazz Cat Restaurant - San Gabriel, I noticed a sign on Valley Boulevard advertising kobe beef pho. Kobe beef, huh? Well, I guess they had to up the ante since filet mignon pho is sooo 2007. :P

Anyway, I was distracted and couldn't remember which restaurant it was so I mentioned it to Tony of SinoSoul so he could have a look out whenever he was in the area. Sure enough, he later told me he found my kobe beef pho and it was being served by Noodle Guy Vietnamese Restaurant in Alhambra.

I didn't get a chance to check it out until March, shortly after I got back from Portland. It was a blustery, rainy night. Perfect weather for a piping hot bowl of soup.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Volcano Tea House - Las Vegas

After lunch at Pho Kim Long Vietnamese Restaurant, we went over to the neighboring strip mall for some boba tea for the road.

Volcano Tea House - Las Vegas 1

My passionfruit green tea, $2.99. So yummy. I saw them put in a huge dollop of passionfruit syrup so it was very passionfruity.