Thursday, May 28, 2009

The love lobster

One 15-minute wait in an empty metro station, one static intercom announcement, one 40-minute wait for a ghost bus, one rain pour and finally one 30-minute walk later, I was finally home to be greeted by a nice red lobster at the dinner table. My mom is the best!

This was worth ever minute spent outside in the freezing weather so-called spring. Worth both strands of hair that were caught in the umbrella and ripped out. Worth the hunger cramp that I always get right after every Pilates class.

Yup, it was worth all the little annoyance I stumbled upon just to get home today. Not the lobster, but my loved ones whom I can be silly dramatic with and vent to about everything. In moments like this, I realize even more how lucky I am and how great I have it compared to a lot of people. The second I got home, I felt like I shed a layer of yuckiness and I was immediately no longer irritated.

But the lobster was a definite bonus. These guys are so big when in season, I'm ok with eating just one a year (Ok, so maybe two or three if they weren't so year-round expensive...)

A lot of people like eating their lobster with butter and lemon, but I cannot deny my typical Vietnamese condiment: chili lime salt & pepper. Very straight forward: 1 part salt, 2 part pepper, a few squeezes of lime (or lemon) and optional chopped chili. (You can use this for other things like grilled beef brochettes, roasted chicken, pork, or shrimp. It's yummy!!!!)

It's still raining like mad outside, and it's still very cold for end of May. My heart goes out to all of the people out there who don't have love in their lives, who don't have dinner waiting for them at home, or don't even have a home to go back to.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Inspired from lack of inspiration...

I'm sure it happens to you too sometimes... You really don't know what to make for lunch, but you know you have to brown bag it because the day before, you took a taxi to work instead of the bus so the "daily allowance" is gone with the wind.


So in times like this, I raid the fridge & try to be creative. Once in a blue moon I end up with a case of "wtf?" but usually, it's ranged from "OK" to "WOW I didn't expect this!"

Well, today was a "WOW I didn't expect this!"

Give it up for quinoa ladies and gentlemen. Leave it up to these little seeds that look like tiny little condoms when cooked to save the day (Seriously, I didn't make this up, loads of people said this before me, and it's so true!) Toss in a bit of this and a bit of that, and you're ready to put on your healthy attitude face while chomping away in front of the PC.

So here it is, my Saved By The Quinoa lunch salad:
(serves 2-3 people depending as side or main)
  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked as according to package (I used red & white, 1 1/2 part boiling water, then throw in 1 part rinsed quinoa, simmer 15 minutes til all water is absorbed)
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, peeled & chopped
  • a handful of almonds, toasted, chopped
  • a handful of dried cranberries
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • a few shakes of garlic powder
  • a couple grinds og black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
Mix the 1st five things together, with 2 forks, so the quinoa stay fluffy. Then whisk together the last five ingredients until well blended, and drizzle into the quinoa salad. Toss and serve at room temperature.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Grilled corn on the cob and "mo hanh" (scallion oil)

Every part of the world has its own version of corn on the cob. Boiled. Grilled. Roasted. Then slathered with: butter & salt, or mayo, chili & lime, or "mo hanh", in this case. "Mo hanh" means "scallion oil" and it's exactly just that:

  • 1 bunch of scallion, washed & chopped. Cooked in a couple of tbsp of oil for a few minutes over medium low heat.Add a pinch or two of salt.

This is one of the night street food in Ho Chi Minh city amongst the sea of delicious treats. When the grilling starts, you can't miss it. It smells awesome! The corn lady would usually be sitting on a tiny stool on the sidewalk in front of her little clay oven full of red burning coal, turning & fanning away at the ears of corn neatly lined up on the metal rack . Next to her, there would always be a small saucepan filled with the fatty, scalliony, salty goodness, ready to be brushed onto a freshly grilled hot sweet ear of corn.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Coo-kees & tea

No, that's not a typo. Apparently I say "coo-kee" most of the time without noticing... I just realized that it's probably my Frenglish (instead of saying "biscuit" when I speak French, I say "cookie" instead and thus, my accent just automatically changes)

So anyway, I got this awesome cookie cutter stamp thingy thanx to 2 Stews and La Table de Nana. I was SO excited!!!!! It was shipped over from Germany, lol!!! Quite a long way for one cookie cutter, but worth it nonetheless.

I tried out the cookie stamp today with some leftover lemon sugar dough that I store in the freezer.

Lemon sugar cookies
(adapted from Annie's Eats's Ella White Sugar Cookies)
  • 1 cup butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp lemon oil
  • 2 -3 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 t. salt
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 375F.

Cream butter with electric mixer or hand-held then add powdered sugar. Drop in egg, lemon oil, lemon juice, salt, zest and flour. Wrap dough in plastic & refrigerate until firm enough to work with.
Roll cookies to 1/4 inch thick & bake at 375° for 8-10 min.

Since I only rolled out a few to try with my new cookie stamp, I baked them in a preheated toaster oven at 400F for 25 minutes.

I poured myself from jasmine tea and brought the cookies back to my chair in the backyard, where I've been reading "Ratio: the simple codes behind the craft of everyday cooking" since this afternoon. Awesome book! I can't wait to apply Michael Ruhlman's ratios to make my own stuff.