Monthly Archives: September 2008

the perfect outfit

foodbuzz goody bag
first i got the bag and the pins in July. i was so dumbfounded and astounded and windang…weng weng?
at such good fortune. i mean, look at the pin on the right!

ready for battle
then i got the apron and spatula (hey wanna-be chef, you forgot to put your hair up in a bun! no one wants hair in their food!)

( :detective: , if you want to join, please email me,, so i can send you the proper invite. you’ll love it, i love ehttttt!)

now all i need is the toque blanche, and perhaps the chef’s jacket, and maybe the clogs…heehee just kidding!
thanks a million to foodbuzz

“French kiss” pizza

"French kiss" pizza

that’s a titillating name for a pizza, huh?

picture this: Friday night, it’s raining buckets and waterfalls, cold slashing rain that seems to penetrate through to the skin despite a PVC raincoat and large umbrella.
tired from all week long waking up when it’s still dark and chasing after time and errands like a banshee.

children coming home from school, “WHAT’S FOR DINNER MOMMM!?! DAD?!?”

pizzaaa! a scene repeated most Fridays in home after home across the country– i bet.

but what if your pizza tastebuds have gone cynical and jaded and burnt-out?

if you’re in the metropolitan Boston area, a jaunt to Schoolhouse pizzeria, corner of Hancock and School streets is a worth a trip across the bridge to Quincy.
pictured above is a small “French kiss” which husband ordered for us to share: Black Forest ham, red onions, fresh mushrooms topped with Gruyere cheese and a kiss of truffle oil…m-hmmm! it was really fragrant. the kids have their favorite “chicken parmesan”, which is darn good, but i can only take this much…

their menu is witty and tongue-in-cheek: appetizers are “Orientation”, Pizza 101 lists the impressive selection, and there are “Electives” like “Drama Queen” (fresh home made mozzarella, fresh roma tomatoes, basil, and arugula served on grilled focaccia with balsamic emulsification), “Class Clown” is pressed peanut butter and fluff sandwich with chocolate chips on Texas toast, and then there’s “The Bully”–grilled ribeye steak with sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, and roasted red peppers with Asiago cheese on a sub roll;
but more importantly the flavors and combinations are just swell.
we’ve had the “S.T.A.R. pupil” (spinach, tomato, arugula, and ricotta), the generously meat-laden “Critical Mass” for the ravenous carnivores (too much even for me!) out there; then there’s the “Dean’s List” with fresh tomatoes, grilled marinated chicken, red peppers, red onion, hot pepper flakes, rosemary oil, and 5-cheese blend…and all manner of toppings for anyone to design their own pizza (white anchovy! grilled zucchini! marinated shrimp! homemade mozzarella!).

we go there for the pizza! i mean, this mommy makes pizza but sometimes when it all gets a bit too much, we go to Schoolhouse for a much needed break.
not too often, but ehem enough so’s husband is on a first-name terms with the pizza chef by now…

curried vegetables, and why i’d like to hibernate now, please

i intended to post a 4th birthday blog for baby rambutan. instead i took a little break…. anyway, belated happy birthday, blog! it’s been a roller coaster ride.
thanks for helping me meet a lot of new friends. :wave:

it’s getting quite crisp and nippy around here.
i would rather sleep through the fall and winter months really, in hibernation mode.

while some people love this so-called “sweater weather” (admittedly i kind of like it too, just because i can wear big, dark-colored, and roomy tops to cover up what i gotta cover up, if you get my drift…) this time around i can’t help but feel anxious and ever more glum.

it’s more than just the heating oil and gasoline and grocery prices.
it’s also election year. *sigh*
after the last two i can’t help but feel that it doesn’t really count for anything, my going to the polls. and then there’s all this strident, mud-slinging, downright dirty campaigning. :melodramatic:

i know i have to step up my fitness and health endeavors (that *&#@ scale just won’t budge!), and get into a money-making gimmick, and near the top of my to-do list, is to get in touch with old friends i’ve neglected.

lately i notice that i’ve been extra forgetful, and it worries me because sometimes i blank out totally and don’t know where i’m headed while i’m driving.
i’ve even left a pan heating up on the stove! husband had to ask gently…”you do know you have the stove on?” and then bluffed my way out of it.
my high school classmate told me about cumin, and about its anti-Alzheimer’s disease prevention properties.
unfortunately my family is not too crazy about its fragrance and its taste.
i mean to induct them into cumin-enriched dishes slowly, gradually.
here’s one dish that they enjoyed. aloo gobi is one of the dishes from the omnivore’s one hundred. it is a mildly spiced cauliflower and potato dish. i added spinach to use up the half-bag in the crisper.
and is an easy dish to prepare without one bit of meat in it.
egad, a vegetarian dish?!
curried vegetables
the recipe is from “The Taste of India,” which i’ve misplaced (that’s why i need more cumin in my diet!–i used whole cumin seeds instead of powdered) but here’s a very similar recipe with a reference to that Keira Knightley soccer movie…

Ibarra chocolate

i found the little hexagon box, opened! and with a little bite out of one chocolate packet.
it was easy to find out the “mouse” who did the deed. :detective:
i bought the chocolate mix (“genuine Mexican chocolate”), from the “Mexican Food” Aisle of the L.A. ‘burb supermarket where my sister regularly shops, during our quick visit in July to celebrate my dad’s birthday. and had then put it away in my baking supply cabinet and promptly forgotten about it.
until today.
it is a solid chocolate compressed cake, individually wrapped and marked into wedges. two wedges per cup of hot milk makes a hot steamy mug, just perfect for the rainy nippy days of fall. daughter plays flute for the school band and they have to attend the football games. someone spread the rumor (proven false since) that the band director serves hot chocolate after the games. NOTTTT!
so i searched for something when she came home cold, damp, and chilled to the bones…and found the missing Mexican chocolate.
Ibarra chocolate
it is mostly “sugar with cacao nibs, soy lecithin, and cinnamon flavor.”
oh well, zero cholesterol and zero trans fats and a smidgen of Vitamin A and iron..
instructions call for heating up some milk (really hot–i used the microwave) and then adding the chocolate wedges, mixing in a blender (i used my stick immersion blender);
and the three kids pronounced it perfect for today.

good enough.
frothy Ibarra chocolate

harvest time

organic big boy tomatoes
our first harvest, ever. #2son was thrilled to do the honor of snipping them off the vines. i’m amazed! i always thought i had a black thumb and automatically killed off all green living things…but with the help of my two younger kids, them with their green hued thumbs probably inherited from their Chinese grandfather, they’ve harvested the big boy tomatoes.
all three of them heehee but we have more on the way if only the autumn chill doesn’t descend on us too swiftly.

how to enjoy the tender sweet fruity flavors?
hmmm. :glasses-slip:
it’s gotta be raw of course. think think think…

B-L-T on farmhouse loaf bread
BLT on farmhouse loaf bread.

thinly sliced, seasoned with freshly ground black pepper and Maldon sea salt, with three thin slices of a farmhouse bread loaf i made, special!, just for this treat, with buttery Boston lettuce and a quick swipe of mayonnaise and mustard on the side slices; and thickly sliced crisped bacon, everywhere.
big boy tomatoes, thinly sliced
at the first slice i took, the fragrance of tomato was so strong, i made daughter take a quick whiff and she said it smelled just like fruit! which it is!

fond of fondue

this is currently at the top of my reading pile, a gorgeous and handy hardcover “Great Party Fondues” by Peggy Fallon (photographed by Alexandra Grablewski). it’s a nifty new item for my cookbook collection full of updated fondue recipes that take off on the traditional ones.
i’m particularly keen on the jalapeno jack fiesta fondue, with its Southwestern flavor flair, recommended for dipping chicken chunks and tortilla chips and sausage, with a zesty margarita at close sipping distance; plus many more like dulce de leche fondue and American hot pot fondue with spicy barbecue broth.
tantalized enough? check it out at
available now!

the Very Good Taste omnivore’s hundred, and the Random tag fromTamarind Trees

here’s a fun questionnaire/survey for foodies that’s been making the rounds of the foodblogs.

it’s fun to read other people’s results, and it’s fun to do because you get to thinking, am i a fanatic manic foodie? or a too-finicky foodie? a snooty snobbie foodie?
you get to find out the names of the food you’ve eaten or turned down, perhaps from another long-ago lifetime; the food you’ve just taken for granted that everyone eats, but is an acquired taste in other worlds;
the food that after a lot of thought you’ve decided you’ll never ever even take a whiff of or just a tidbit bite;
and how far would you go and how long will it take you to cross off all the other items…. :drive:



1) copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) *cross out any items that you would never consider eating.*
4) optional extra: Post a comment at linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes plum! apple! peach! strawberry!
blueberry! etc etc
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. *Whole insects*
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin possibly
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. *Roadkill*
76. Baijiu
77. *Hostess Fruit Pie*
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

(PS. questions?, Wikipedia is your friend, and the FAQ’s, areover here!)

6 Random Things about Me
tagged by Tom of Tamarind Trees..message to Tom: sorry it took me so long, i couldn’t think of any random interesting things about moi.
The rules are: a) Post the rules (the first rule of meme club is don’t forget the rules of memeclub!); b) Disclose 6 random things about yourself; c) Link to the person who did this to you; d) Pass the meme on to 6 other people; e) Link to those people and let them know f) Disclose 6 random things about yourself.

6 random boring things about me.

1. i’m allergic to crabs. but am in deep and severe denial about it. as in, i will buy, steam, then eat, and break out into hives, and very calmly get into the medicine cabinet for the Benadryl antihistamine. i know i will regret this someday. but i gotta eat crab. especially since i have some burong mangga (pickled green mango)

2. can’t bear to eat at restaurants without glancing at the prices…and calculating the costs if i make it myself at home. i know i know. i’m a K.J. (killjoy)!

3. i have a crush on Anthony Bourdain…

4. i started baking in grade school, around the time i first met my great friends and schoolmates Chee and Lizette, who lived nearby and loved baking too!

5. i. am. always. hungry.

6. as a child i didn’t eat too many vegetables.

i’m tagging my usual victims er friends! dear sweet friends!
chef shalimar
atinna in tokyokuni

the right stuff

sometimes the right equipment makes all the difference. that’s why i’ve been searching so long for this…special mortar and pestle from Bali, as spotted at the rambling gypsy’s,
because of my love for this.
but barring an expedition to Java and beyond, there’s no chance in !!!! of finding a set.

i was using a mini food processor but not quite achieving that smooth paste consistency, and my little mortar couldn’t accommodate more than a half cup or so of ingredients at a time.
then i found this big white mouthed and highly-walled mortar and pestle by Kuchenhopf.
mortar and pestleground to a paste
so it’s playtime!
there’s a lot of pounding and grinding going on lately at the baby rambutan nest. for tonight’s appetizer, i made Vietnamese pork skewers, marinated in a rich dark mixture of fish sauce, dark soy, sugar, shallots, garlic and lemongrass, grilled under the broiler and served with the best instant dip i’ve ever had the pleasure of discovering: bumbu sate mix from Indonesia. just slice the block thinly and pour boiling hot water and you get the whiff of peanuts, groundnuts, coconut milk and spices. the flavors together are just so right…
PICT0006Vietnamese pork skewers with Indonesian bumbu sate

zucchini blossoms, continued: stuffed, battered and deep-fried

this time i ordered two dozen flowers from the organic farm in Long Island, Boston…they work to support the homeless by providing jobs, fresh organic food for the Long Island Shelter, and by their profits to benefit the population in Boston.

Serving Ourselves Farm, PO Box 220648, Boston, MA 02122 for donations or volunteer opportunities…sponsor a seedling, sponsor by the foot, adopt a beehive! “your gift makes a huge difference in the lives of many at the shelter and shows your care for a valuable program…”

i can’t imagine how hard their lives could be. i only know that winters in Boston are terribly harsh so i wish to publicize this farm’s work in this time of ever dire need.

i called them up to ask for the zucchini flowers and i showed up just a bit past opening time of my town’s Friday farm market and there they were. the farmer guy said many people walked by and wanted to take them but he waited for me! thanks farmer guy.

this time i stuffed them with this concoction, blended well:
(measurements are approximate, by all means add more, less, substitute or omit the ingredients as you wish!)

3/4 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 large egg
2 tbsps. ground almonds
1 tbsp. chopped fresh chives
1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste

the flowers were very delicate this time…i wonder if it has something to do with the lateness of the growing season? so some flowers i just dipped in the batter without the cheese stuffing.

the batter (based on ms. glaze’s “fleur de courgette beignet :

1 &1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 packet active dry yeast
1 can lager beer
(more water, as needed)

whisk the flour and yeast together then slowly pour the beer in, in a steady stream.
keep whisking until you reach a thick pancake-like consistency, and add more water if necessary.
let stand while you process the flowers.

thoroughly yet carefully rinse the zucchini flowers. remove the stamens (i used the male flowers which have been universally voted as more flavorful than the mommies) by carefully pinching off–try not to tear the petals.

drain and dry over towels.

stuff with ricotta cheese filling above. dip into the batter and deep-fry in enough vegetable oil to allow the blossoms to float a bit, in a deep fat fryer or a deep sauce pan 375F for about 4 minutes total. fry just until light golden brown. let excess oil drain in paper towel lined platter. sprinkle with sea salt (Maldon, from my jetsetter friend chef shalimar :wave: ) and serve immediately. i recommend a garlic or basil flavored sauce!
click links above for more details…

chicken milanese

have you ordered your copy of this cookbook yet?
i want to make it easy for you if you haven’t…with an easy chicken recipe that my kids enjoyed thoroughly.
i want you to order this book because it has all these beautiful recipes from their restaurant chain (yah, i know it sounds incongruous, but everything i’ve tried has been wonderful!)
i want you to order because all profits from the sale of this cookbook go to children’s charities particularly the Starbright foundation…. go on then!

an easy midweek dinner, boneless chicken thighs breaded and fried (seasoned with salt and pepper, dipped in beaten eggs, and then breaded with plain bread crumbs and pan fried). i think the secret is to season the chicken well before frying.

i told #2son when he asked “what’s for dinner mom?” : giant chicken nuggets, sonny! and he was quite happy to wait.

i served my kids’ dinners (yah, all three! college boy called and rode the train home immediately when he heard)
with thin spaghetti and vegetable marinara sauce.

i had mine with no pasta or rice or bread but with checca: a tomato salad flavored with salt, pepper, basil, garlic, and ribbons or shreds of parmesan cheese, then drizzled with olive oil. scrumptious!
the kids want the extra chicken cutlets on their sandwiches tomorrow…