Monday, March 28, 2011

Chicken Noodles, Comfort Me Please?

It was a drizzly, cold morning when I was waiting for the bus. As crazy as it sounds, for the past five years, I rarely go out by myself, without my kid(s). It feels liberating, yet nerve-wrecking. When I left the house, the kids were still sleeping, the boy tucked next to his dad and the girl slept soundly, the only noise was their snore.

I was going to an open house for a culinary school. About 6 years ago, I applied to this same school but due to financial and immigration problem, I had no choice but to back out. Now the latter is settled, so we decided it's time to go back. Despite my worry about being socially inept, I made small talks without turning red (major improvement, I dare say). And heck, I like this school. There was another school that I was considering but it doesn't fit my needs and it's quite a distance from where I live, while this one is just a 10-min drive away.

Spinach soup

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

First Dinner in Our New Place

The thought of moving out of our old apartment was exciting and relieving. No more loud noises at 3am. No more cigarette stank seeping through our windows. No more petty fights that we could not help but overhear. But the process of moving is a pain in the ass. While I can't really help my husband move the bigger stuff, I can't stand the mess that's sitting in the middle of the living room right now. Our dresser isn't built yet, and with my habit of collecting books, we definitely need another bookshelf. My son loves our current condition, as he uses the piles of books and bags of clothes as his obstacle course.

Roast chicken

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pandan Cake: No, It's Not Kryptonite

As a rule of thumb, when there is a choice, I won't consume food that's artificially colored. Ironically, my number one weakness is chiffon pandan cake. To my defense, it's a quite difficult task to find fresh pandan leaves (otherwise known as screwpine leaves) here in Seattle. Awhile back I found fresh pandan leaves at the Asian grocery store I frequent, but the next week I was shit out of luck. It's so much easier to stock up on pandan extract. I have 2 kinds; one without added coloring and the other one looks like it's loaded with kryptonite. Guess which one I ended up using?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Bread-That-Was-Supposed-to-be-Ciabatta with Shredded Pork

Couple days ago, Danielle from Runs with Spatula gave me an award, thanks Danielle! It sounds like a fun thing to write but to be honest with you, I don't know what to write when it comes to 7 things about myself. I will try...
  1. I'm a bookwhore. My husband hates how I leave books all around. Trip to bookstore is always filled with temptation.
  2. My yearly new year resolution is to be less profane, somehow I haven't succeeded yet. 
  3. I get all happy and excited when I go grocery shopping, and spend less than I expected. Then I will show the receipt to my husband and yap about it for a good 15 minutes til he tells me that "I don't really care how much you save". Ouch.
  4. Socially inept. It's really hard for me to start a conversation. But after 5 minutes of talking, usually things go smoothly. 
  5. I cannot live without chilli sauce. Or chilli itself. We buy the 136oz huge jar and it'll be gone by the end of the month.
  6. My husband is 11 years older than me, but sometimes I look 5 years older than him. Life. is. not. fair.
  7. My right thumb nail is deformed, has been that way since I was 14. Don't know what's wrong with it. Anyone?

Back to food, last week I made two huge loaves of ciabatta from Peter Reinhart's book, Bread Baker's Apprentice. It was good but definitely not ciabatta. It doesn't have huge airpockets as it should be. I love eating ciabatta just as is, without any adornments. Unfortunately, this bread-that-was-supposed-to-be-ciabatta (BTWSTBC) is too dense to eat as is. So I decided to slowcook a piece of pork shoulder butt with ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, paprika, garlic and dried chilli flakes. And shredded it by hands and top the BTWSTBC with the shredded pork. 

The crunchy, rustic-looking crust with the soft bread and the juicy, tangy pork, without a doubt, is delicious. If that bread was a pillow, I'd love to sleep on it. But the thought of having bread crumbs on my hair snapped me out of it. And pork is such a versatile ingredient. No matter how you prepare it, it will turn out edible if not tasty. And I believe pig's sole purpose in this world is to be eaten. Cow/cattle serves multiple purposes, chicken too. But not pig. Where is pig's destination other than the butcher shop? Oh pork, how I love you.

BTWSTBC is just a vessel for the awesome pork. The inside was scooped so it could be used as a shovel, for transferring the pork from plate to mouth. Eating utensils aren't needed.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Banana Sundae, If Only Babies Stay Babies Forever

The habit of cooking/baking then take pictures of the end product, has definitely affected my son. The other day he was so freaking bored, he told me he wanted to make banana sundae. And he specifically told me "then we will take a picture!", so we did that. Oh and he wanted to listen to Beatles while taking pics?! He's been this way since he was small. I always say he is an old soul inside a 4-year-old body, except when he's throwing hissy fit (never mind, I've seen adults throw hissy fit).

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Red Curry, We Had Poor Man's Curry Yesterday

Seattle's weather is pretty interesting. You can get sunshine, wind, hail and snow all in one day. I like to joke how Mother Nature is PMSing, and when she's in shitty mood like this, I'd love a bowl of comfort, please. What can you make from 2 baking potatoes, and half of chicken breast? Well, if your pantry is like mine, you can make Thai curry! While I can't say it is authentic, but it's better than most Thai places we've been to. Spicier and has more flavors than the bland-ish curry they serve.

Usually when our fridge is fully stocked, we'll put kabocha and bamboo shoots into the curry too. But because I wasn't well prepared this time, it was just potato and chicken breast. But what important is the curry paste. As long as you have good curry paste, you're good to go. 

This is my trusted red curry paste recipe. It has never fail me. Ever.

  • 6 red chilies, remove the stems, chopped (I use 10, because I'm nuts)
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp lemongrass powder
  • 1 tsp minced galangal
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp dried shrimp paste
  • 1 tbsp oil 

It's up to you to either keep the chilies seeds or discard them. I keep them because I like spicy stuff. Put everything in a blender (or in my case, magic bullet), then process them until it turns into smooth paste.

For one recipe, I use 5 tablespoons of red curry paste to 3 1/2 cups coconut milk and 2 tablespoons of fish sauce. But I usually eyeball it depends on my mood that day. Some days I like my curry a bit less spicy but when I need the extra heat, I go crazy. It was good for cold weather, gives you warmth and save your electricity (hey, who needs heater if you're eating curry?) My son could have 2 bowls of rice with it if I allow him.