Monthly Archives: December 2010

caramelized white chocolate goodness

David Lebovitz is a genius. He can take something delicious (white chocolate) and turn it into something UBER-delicious (caramelized white chocolate). I wish there were more recipes that made good use of caramelized white chocolate. I’m not much into ice cream in this weather, nor any of his other suggestions. I’ve tried to replace it with white chocolate in blondie recipes, but it’s not really the same – I feel like the caramelization takes too much of the moisture out of the chocolate.

One thing I learned from this is that Ghirardelli isn’t all it’s hyped up to be. Their white chocolate turned out to be really chalky and grainy and not good for caramelizing. What was supposed to take an hour took two and a half instead. Still delicious, but way more tedious. It’s such an easy procedure that anyone can do it, but if you’re going to invest an hour of your time, spring for the good stuff (ie – Valrhona or Guittard)

Instead of copying out the recipe word for word anyway, I’m just going to direct you to David’s recipe.

Yes, I did sit in front of my oven and watch it caramelize.

Tips (in addition to the ones he lists on his blog)

  • Do NOT use Ghirardelli White Chocolate chips (as mentioned above)
  • To avoid getting water on: do NOT wash your spatula in between scraping. Scrape as much of the chocolate off your spatula as possible when you’re done using it each time.
  • It’s easier to “stir” in the sea salt at the end by just sprinkling it on and smoothing it with the spatula as you normally would.
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easy cooking: chicken “fried” rice

It seems like an odd confession for a food blogger, but I absolutely HATE cooking for myself.  Growing up, I had my mom prepare every dinner. When she was away this past year, I was left with the annoying task of cooking dinner every night. I HATED IT. IT SUCKS. No matter how much I prepared, it seemed I was always wasting an hour of my day (if you count cleanup too).

 

Eventually, I learned to make batch meals on Saturday and just nuke it throughout the week. (And also to mooch off others giving free food, but that’s neither here nor there). Of course, I ended up having a few go-to meals – that is, meals so easy and brainless that I didn’t need to spend that much time in the kitchen.

 

 

Laziest Chicken and Rice EVER

I should have eaten it on a plate....

This is the easiest dinner EVER. There’s probably an official recipe similar to this, but I really just saw that I only had chicken, rice, and some frozen veggies, and didn’t feel like doing any more food shopping that week. The result might look something like fried rice, but everything is either steamed or baked. Here’s the recipe, which you can and should beef up to your own personal tastes.

Ingredients (for one person):

  • Whatever cut and quantity of chicken you prefer
  • 3/4 cup rice
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons broth
  • 1/2 cup of mixed veggies
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • Fresh ground pepper

Directions

  • Wash the rice until it runs clear, then soak it for thirty minutes
  • Meanwhile, cook your chicken however way you like. I marinated a chicken breast overnight and baked it at 425 for thirty minutes
  • Bring the broth to a boil. I used canned broth and had to add a bit of salt to taste.
  • Chuck the broth, veggies, oils, rice (completely DRAINED), and pepper into the rice cooker. Give it a good stir and then let the cooker do its thing

 

 

Tips to make it even lazier:

  • Since there’s not that much rice, you use a fine mesh strainer over a bowl to wash and soak your rice. That way, you won’t be draining rice and getting through all the annoying little grains every time you rinse. You can just put the rice into the strainer, put the strainer into the bowl, and fill it with water. Once you need to change the water, just empty out the bowl of water. and repeat. When you need it to go into the rice cooker, you can just lift the strainer out and dump it in one fell swoop
  • You can also sear your chicken on a pan and stick it into the rice cooker, although you would have to add a tablespoon more water, and the chicken would have to be ALMOST COMPLETELY DONE before you put it in (the steamer isn’t hot enough).
  • Frozen/canned veggies are your friend, unless you’re super into fresh produce. I used canned corn and a frozen mix of peas, carrots, and broccolli. I didn’t need to de-frost anything before chucking it into the cooker, although that may change depending on how small your cuts are.

But I totally just ate it out of the pot to avoid extra dishes.

 

 

 

Taiwan and an Apology

I really wanted to update this blog. And then I didn’t. Blame it on school, blame it on laziness, blame it on the alcohol. Whatever way you spin it, it just didn’t get done. But here’s to a new year and a fresh start, with some old pictures.

Since I last blogged, two (food-related) important events have happened.

  1. I went to Taiwan. And it was delicious.
  2. I started living alone. And learned I hate cooking for myself.

Today’s blog will be on the first one. I spent a month in Taiwan doing work and eating, but mostly eating. You might be inclined to think that this little booger-sized country (seriously. I’m pretty sure New York is bigger than that whole island) has nothing to offer to the world of food, but you’d be surprised. Since Taiwan has been taken over by so much countries and cultures, it borrows from and tweaks so many different cuisines. And what’s sad is nobody really gets to experience Taiwanese-styled foods because they always get overshadowed by its Korean, Japanese, and Chinese counterparts.

 

Here are some pictures I took of lesser known foods from Taiwan:

 

HOT POT

the MEAT SHELF! 😛

This picture looks like it’s part of the meat section of the supermarket, but it’s actually a part of a HOT POT restaurant near Taipei. Hot pot is like the Asian (and WAY better) version of fondue. You have your own personal pot and stove, with some light broth, and you pick your own raw meats and veggies to put into it (that’s what this shelf is holding). This way, everything is REALLY fresh, and you can tailor it to your own liking. Seriously, this is like one of my favorite things to eat!

I think it’s borrowed from the Japanese sukiyaki which is pretty much the same thing but with their own style of condiments. One thing I think only Taiwanese people do is eat it with raw egg as a dipping sauce. Dangerous, you say? I say, salmonellicious. For those of you who are horrified, let me tell you that Taiwanese people just aren’t that stringent about food safety. I mean, I’ve never had a problem, but I’ve also seen raw chicken and other meats hanging outside 80 degree weather for sale. And I’ve never gotten sick from anything, but maybe it’s just in my blood :P. But if you can’t handle living life on the edge, you can also do without the dipping sauce.

 

 

My personal hot pot

 

SOUPY DUMPLINGS (Shanghai Buns)

This is the right way to hold soupy dumplings. Do NOT jab it with a fork!

These are Shanghai Buns but I think it’s more accurate to call them soupy dumplings. They look just like any other dumplings but inside they’re filled with REALLY, REALLY, REALLY SCALDING HOT SOUP (so she learned the hard way). And the way to eat it is NOT to jab at it with a fork but to lift the top “knot” up with your chopsticks and place it gently on an Asian soup spoon (so she also learned the hard way).  I could be wrong, but I’m guessing Shanghai Buns are from Shanghai, not Taiwan. But I’ve had them from Chinese and Taiwanese restaurants, and I feel like the broth used is a bit sweeter in the Taiwanese ones.

 

“FAST FOOD”

For America, “fast food” would be the McDonalds and Burger King type joints. Taiwan actually has those chains too, but they’re mostly in the city and I’ve yet to eat in one of them. If you live in the hick parts of the country, like I did, the staple food joints end up serving really rustic Taiwanese food. Instead of burgers, you get… noodles, soups, and rice dishes.

Rice Noodles and Fish Paste Soup

Fish Paste Soup only sounds disgusting because I have no idea what the English name would be for the food. But it’s AWESOME. It’s like Fish tempura, cooked in a delicious clear broth. Rice noodles… meh. I’m not a big fan, but then again I’m not crazy about noodles.

 

 

Seasoned Meat and Rice (Taiwanese people need to be more creative with their names...)

This is one of the most common rustic foods. Again, the name is misleading. But it’s pretty much ground meat that’s stewed with this unknown mystery sauce, and simmered to perfection. I’d be more descriptive, but I myself do not know how to make these things and it’s way cheaper and more delicious just to buy it off the street than to make it yourself (You can pretty much sustain yourself food-wise on $5 a day)

And… Everything else.

 

 

Everything else...

This is the way that Taiwanese people eat. It’s never one or two big entrees, but like a thousand little dishes, all family style. Maybe we have commitment issues.

 

 

Chicken feet!!

Yeah… we’re weird. We eat chicken feet. And chicken butt on a stick. and (congealed) chicken blood on a stick.