Saturday, June 5, 2010

Orzo with everything

chicken sausage and orzo with everything

I recently went to my friend’s bridal shower and one of her sisters made an orzo dish that I absolutely loved. So I asked her for the recipe. She said it was called orzo with everything. So of course, the first thing I did when I got home was to google “orzo with everything.” When I saw this recipe I knew I had found it. It turned out pretty well. There was a little too much balsamic vinegar, and we added more sundried tomatoes, olives, and parmesan than the recipe called for.

We had it with sweet apple and champagne chicken sausage from Trader Joe's. It was a great light summer meal and one that I will definitely make again.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Mexican hot chocolate & Molinillo

Spring is here, but that doesn't mean you have to stop drinking hot chocolate. Davneet and I both come from cultures that appreciate spicy food, so of course we love Mexican hot chocolate. I usually add my own cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne to hot cocoa. But I recently decided to try Mexican hot chocolate as opposed to hot cocoa.

Hot chocolate or drinking chocolate is made from actual chocolate, which contains cocoa, sugar, and cocoa butter, among other ingredients. Hot cocoa is made from cocoa powder, which does not contain cocoa butter and is therefore less fattening but also less creamy and delicious.

Anyway, I purchased two brands of Mexican hot chocolate: Abuelita and Ibarra. Both are prepared by dissolving 1 disc of chocolate in 4 cups of milk, over medium heat. As implied, the chocolate discs include sugar and cinnamon, so no additional ingredients are needed.


Traditionally, a molinillo (that crazy wooden stick pictured above) is used to mix the hot chocolate and make it frothy. If you don't have a molinillo, a regular whisk works just as well.

I found a molinillo online at Dean & Deluca for $14. But I decided to check out our favorite Mexican grocery store, Reyna Foods, in the Strip district first. Theirs was only $4.50, so of course I bought it.

Before we had a chance to open either of the hot chocolate packages, Davneet decided he preferred Ibarra over Abuelita. Abuelita lists "Artificial Flavor" under its ingredients, whereas Ibarra's list contains the word "Cinnamon". He also didn't like the fact that Abuelita is manufactured by Nestle. When you think of traditional Mexican cuisine, you don't think Nestle.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

To make sure he was objectively judging the two brands, I gave Davneet a blind taste test, placing two unmarked cups of hot chocolate in front of him. After a few sips from each cup, he of course chose the Ibarra. He thought the Abuelita was more chocolatey but tasted more watery at the same time. He thought the Ibarra was both creamier and spicier.

I agreed that the Ibarra was better overall. I've been putting a disc of chocolate in my coffee pot and brewing half a pot of coffee. When the coffee's done, the chocolate isn't completely dissolved yet, so I whisk inside the coffee pot until it's uniform. Then I drink it with equal parts milk. It's delicious.

Puffy Breads


In middle school, one of the recipes we made in Home Economics was kind of a sweet Yorkshire Pudding. I remember really liking it and although I love traditional, savory Yorkshire Pudding, I have quite the sweet tooth. So I decided to try making popovers, since I thought that would be more similar to what I made so many years ago.

For my first attempt, I used this recipe by Alton Brown, food scientist extraordinaire. I did, however, make some modifications. I halved the salt because all the reviews said 1 1/2 teaspoons was way too much. I also used a muffin pan, since we don't own a popover pan. As a result, I ended up with 12 popovers that only needed to bake for about 25 minutes, instead of the prescribed yield of 6 popovers that need to bake for 40 minutes.

My take on Alton Brown's popovers, seen above, were good. They were pancake-esque in flavor, while looking like hollow biscuits thanks to the shallow muffin pan. The dish from middle school however, was a lot more buttery and sweeter. So I decided to give popovers another try.

Sweet Yorkshire Pudding

I settled on these two recipes after extensive googling. The Pepperidge Farm Sweet Yorkshire Pudding pictured above, was closer to what I had in middle school. It was very buttery, but a bit on the salty side since I used salted butter. It also only needed half the baking time -- 13 minutes -- instead of 25. But I find that my baking times are always less than called for in recipes. Sprinkled with some confectioner's sugar, this was a really nice treat and exactly what I was looking for.

Puffy Dutch Pancake

The puffy Dutch pancake was the worst of the bunch. With twice the eggs and half the flour of the Pepperidge Farm recipe, it was way too eggy, tasting like a hybrid omelet. We won't be making this one again, but Alton Brown's and Pepperidge Farm's creations have been saved in the recipe binder.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Oxtail Soup

oxtail soup

Oxtail soup is my chicken soup. It always makes me think of being a little kid, probably because I ate it more when I was younger than in recent years. Living on my own has made me miss Korean food more and more each year, so I decided it was time to make this childhood staple.

We adapted a pretty simple recipe from Chowhound -- basically the oxtail is boiled in water for several hours to create a broth and make the meat really tender. I didn't trim enough fat from the oxtail prior to cooking, so you can see a nice sheen on the soup's surface in the picture above. Next time, I'll have to refrigerate the soup overnight to aid in removing the fat. Even so, the soup was delicious and just like I remembered it.

Oxtail Soup Recipe
Makes 4 Servings

4 lbs oxtail
8 cups water
5 cloves of garlic
1/2 inch of ginger, sliced thinly
1 onion, cut in half
1/4 daikon radish, sliced thinly
scallions, chopped

Place oxtails in a large pot and cover with 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Add garlic, ginger, and onion. Let simmer for 3 or 4 hours, skimming oil as needed. Add radish and let it cook for ten minutes more. Pour soup into bowl and garnish with scallions. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010



I was in college when one of my friends took me to this tiny place in the East Village of New York called Otafuku. It’s really small, so you can’t eat inside, and it has a limited menu. But when it comes to food, I always pick quality over quantity. We went to this place for one thing: okonomiyaki, a Japanese pancake.

I fell in love with okonomiyaki with my first bite. The pancake itself is very flavorful and filling, but I think what makes the dish so amazing is the sauces. It’s topped with Japanese mayo and Okonomi Sauce, which is kind of like a sweeter Worcestershire sauce. I would never think to combine those too condiments together, but it’s really magical.

We always avoided making our own okonomiyaki because we thought it would be complicated, but after finally giving it a try, we realized it’s pretty easy to make. We consulted two different recipes, which were basically the same except for the number of eggs. One recipe called for only one egg while another used four. I preferred the version with four eggs because I thought it imparted more flavor, but Davneet thought it became too omelet-esque. We’ll have to experiment and find the ideal number of eggs.

We also have to try fillings other than pork, such as shrimp, squid, and octopus. Davneet's excited about the octopus, since that was his favorite when I took him to Otafuku.

Okonomiyaki Recipe
Makes 4 pancakes

1 cup flour
1-4 eggs depending on your preference
¼ tsp of dashi powder in ¾ cup of hot water
¼ cabbage, finely chopped
2 tbsp scallion, finely chopped
1 tbsp sesame oil
6 slices of thinly sliced fatty pork, chopped
Okonomi Sauce
Kewpie Mayo
bonito flakes

Combine flour, egg(s), and dashi in a mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Stir in cabbage and scallions. Heat sesame oil in nonstick pan over medium heat. Add a quarter of the pork and cook for a few seconds. (It’s thinly sliced so it cooks very quickly.) Pour a quarter of the batter over the pork to form a 6” pancake. Let it cook for 5 minutes. Then flip it, and let it cook for another five minutes. Remove from pan. Cover pancake with Okonomi Sauce in a zig-zagging pattern. Rotate the pancake 90-degrees, and repeat the zig-zag with Kewpie mayo. Finally, top with bonito flakes. Repeat entire process 3 times. Eat and enjoy!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Caesar Salad Burger

Caesar Salad Burger

We've been eating a lot of Caesar Salads lately because the combination of anchovies and Parmigiano Reggiano is delicious. So when we saw this recipe for a Caesar Salad Burger, we had to give it a try.

For the most part, it's a basic burger: seasoned beef and romaine lettuce on a wheat bun. But the Caesar mayonnaise adds a real highlight -- it's creamy, sweet, and tangy, and complements the beef well, as does the heavy sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Easter Presents


Early Easter present!! Or really late Halloween candy, depending on how you look at it. We just received 68 20-piece packs of Starburst, 36 14-piece packs of Orbit Mist, and 30 15-piece packs of Wrigley's Zing. For the mathematically challenged, that equates to 1,360 pieces of chewy, fruity deliciousness and 950 pieces of mouth-freshening gum. I can already feel my teeth rotting.


Saturday, March 27, 2010


mini cupcake lineup

Dozen Bakery, home of our favorite cupcakes in Pittsburgh, hosted a summer cupcake preview party, where we were able to sample several new mini cupcakes. The place was so packed that we had to eat outside, which is why our cupcakes are lined up on a windowsill. I can't remember all the flavors, but I think they were (from left to right) key lime pie, pina colada, peanut butter, lemon meringue, carrot cake, espresso, lemon basil, and strawberry shortcake. The lemon basil and the pina colada were amazing!

tower of mini cupcakes

Tower of cupcakes!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Panko-Crusted Cod with Baby Bok Choy

panko-crusted cod with bok choy

We still have way too many Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies lying around. So for dinner on a Wednesday night, we decided to keep it simple and light.

The cod was seasoned lightly, dressed with a thin coat of Dijon mustard, and dipped in a pile of Panko breadcrumbs, prior to baking (for the fish) and broiling (for the breadcrumbs). The bok choy was quickly pan-fried in a sesame-canola oil mixture, along with garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, and red pepper flakes. Delicious and nutritious.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

chocolate chip bacon cookies

Since we love bacon, we had tried making German bacon cookies, which unfortunately left us disappointed. However, we didn't want to give up on bacon cookies. So when I found this recipe for bacon chocolate chip cookies, I just had to make them.

The bacon is cooked with brown sugar sprinkled liberally on top, which makes it very sweet. It's delicious enough to eat on its own as a dessert, but I think it would also make a good topping for ice cream.

The bacon isn't that prominent in the cookies because it's candied, which takes away the saltiness and crispiness of the bacon. Davneet thought the cookies would have been better if the bacon had been left alone, so we'll probably try making bacon chocolate chip cookies again, without candied bacon, and with the New York Times chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Street Tacos

Street tacos

We went to the Strip today to buy some groceries and had lunch from the food cart outside Reyna Foods in the Strip. We tried three tacos: chicken, steak, and tongue. As opposed to the tacos we had at Yo Rita, these were much more authentic: topped with sour cream, cilantro, onion, and queso fresco, all wrapped in a corn tortilla.

We also got some dessert from Peace, Love, & Little Donuts, which are easily our favorite donuts in Pittsburgh thanks to their compact size and crispiness. We tried their plain, powdered, ginger, and Saigon sugar donuts.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Beef Goulash & Baker's Potatoes

dutch oven

I love slow-cooked meat. Until now, we’ve only made dishes in the oven: pulled pork and brisket. To expand our slow-cooked meat repertoire, we bought this Dutch oven.

For its inaugural meal we made beef goulash with a side of baker's potatoes.

Beef Goulash & Bakers Potatoes

The goulash was excellent thanks to the roasted red peppers and Russian beer, Baltika #9 Extra Lager. Despite not having any cream or butter, the potatoes were surprisingly delicious.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Cheesy Sunday, with Beer!

D's Six  Pax & Dogz

Cheese fries, macaroni and cheese hot dogs, hot wings with bleu cheese. Is there anything that cheese doesn't make better? Well, with the exception of my waistline. D's Six Pax & Dogz certainly doesn't think so, and neither do I.

Beautia and I visited this old-European-style pub for a nutritious Sunday brunch, mainly because of our craving for hot dogs and nostalgia towards the place -- we hadn't visited in over a year.

After devouring everything you see above (that last item is a Chicago-style all-beef hot dog complete with onions, tomatoes, celery salt, mustard, electric green relish, hot peppers, and a pickle), we left very satisfied, slightly nauseous, and carrying an assorted six-pack of Russian Lagers, Raspberry Ciders, and India's number one export other than I.T. professionals: Kingfisher.

All in all, a worthwhile Sunday.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Banana Bread

Banana bread

Davneet bought bananas, but he didn't eat any. So we were left with a bunch of overripe bananas. The solution was obvious: make banana bread.

I was browsing online for bacon cookie recipes and came across Pete Bakes! The Web site of a fellow bacon lover. I decided to try his banana bread recipe.

I followed the recipe exactly except I used four bananas instead of three. As a result, the bread was very moist and sweet. Delicious.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

German Bacon Cookies

German Bacon Cookies

Bacon goes well with everything: beef, salad, chocolate. So why not butter cookies? When we found this recipe for German Bacon Cookies, we just had to try it.

But this was another dish that made me wish I had a kitchen appliance: an electric mixer. The dough had so little liquid that mixing it by hand was grueling.

The cookies came out more like a savory shortbread. In my mind, cookies are sweet, and these cookies have no sugar. They seem like they would be a good complement to another dish, such as croutons for a salad or crackers for a soup.