Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Walking in Memphis, Tennessee

When you have less than 24 hours in Memphis, where do you have to hit up? That's what I had to figure out for my birthday weekend when Henok and I went on a road trip to the Blues City aka Birthplace of Rock 'n Roll aka the BBQ Capital of the World. In addition to getting some bomb barbecue, I of course had to take a stroll down Beale Street and pay my respects at Graceland. We did some delightful things like see the cats in art exhibit at the Brooks Museum and watch the sunrise over Peabody. And of course no road trip to Memphis is completed without a spontaneous birthday bash at the Grizzlies game followed by a laid back time at BB King's. 

Here's a glimpse into the two meals I had in the city:

The Bar-B-Q Shop 
Talk about lick off the bone ribs. The Bar-B-Q Shop is known for their famous and award winning Dancing Pigs sauce and dry seasonings in which their meat is tenderly prepared with. I got 1/2 and 1/2 dry rub and wet (there was also a glazed option), and I must say I preferred dipping the dry rubbed ribs in their barbecue sauce. Served with baked beans, coleslaw, and Texas toast, it was definitely 100% finger licking good. Even better in a sandwich the next day! (I didn't actually finish the entire rack myself.) 

1782 Madison Avenue
Memphis, TN

The Arcade Restaurant
The Arcade Restaurant is the oldest spot in Memphis (so old school there are ash trays in each bathroom stall) and sits on the corner of South Main Street. It used to be right near a bustling railroad station and known as the busiest intersection of the city. However, gone are the days of the railroad and Elvis being a regular and in with the small empty town feel. The 50's diner vibe however, brightens you up, as will their sweet potato pancakes. The country ham was thin cut, smoked, and salted and the pair of biscuits light and fluffy. Though it may be purely a tourist destination nowadays, the nostalgia feels nice and who doesn't want an Elvis special (a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich)? 

540 S Main Street
Memphis, TN



FedEx Forum

Beale Street

Country ham breakfast, sweet potato pancakes 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Honey lemon ginger emergen-tea elixir

for fighting off colds and soothing your insides 

Having a side of Belle Chasse navel orange slices with my elixir made with local honey

Now that I'm working in a hospital, I know I'm being exposed to a lot more germs. It's inevitable. But if you keep yourself healthy and in tiptop shape, you don't have to be worried about seeing so many patients on the daily. One way I keep my immune system strong is with my lemon honey elixir. It's no secret; you can get it at most cafes and bakeries in Hong Kong. But in celebration of the Winter Solstice, the seasonal version of this wonderful drink is made with ginger to warm your body. 

Honey lemon ginger emergen-tea elixir (2 servings)
6 - 8 slices of ginger
2 tbs honey
2 cups water
half a lemon, sliced

1. Boil 1 cup of water with ginger slices. Set aside to cool off
2. In  a large glass, mix honey with remaining water and lightly mash lemon slices
3. Once ginger water is slightly cooled off, mix in with the honey lemon mixture

✓ Vitamin C

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Apple cake with orange cranberry sauce

I've never really used fresh cranberries before, but I figured I might as well try since 'tis the season. They're high in antioxidants, tart to taste, and have a brilliant color, making them a great addition to any holiday dish. I paired it with a slice of my apple cake and wow do you have a beautiful and heart healthy breakfast, snack, or dessert. Goes great with a steaming hot cup of tea, coffee, or cider. How versatile! 

Apple cake
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp all spice
1/2 cup olive oil
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 apples, diced
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

1. Preheat oven 350F.
2. In a large bowl, mix together flours, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and all spice.
3. In a separate bowl, beat together egg, olive oil, and vanilla extract. Add into dry ingredients. Incorporate well.
4. Fold in apples and pecans.
5. Pour batter into an oiled 9" square dish or your favorite cake pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.

✓ whole grains
✓ fiber
✓ fruit
✓ unsaturated fats

Orange cranberry sauce
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/3 cup orange juice, best if fresh squeezed
orange zest
1 tbs maple syrup

1. In a small sauce pan, bring all ingredients to a low boil.
2. Remove from heat once cranberries are all popped and soft, about 10 minutes.
3. Serve warm or refrigerate to store.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Southern breads: pumpkin skillet cornbread & rosemary biscuits

On this lovely brisk Sunday afternoon, Henok and I celebrated our second annual Friendsgiving meal! This year we put together a vegetarian Thanksgiving feast complete with cornbread dressing, balsamic honey brussel sprouts, maple roasted candied yams, rosemary biscuits, and an apple pumpkin pecan crisp for dessert. Definitely a step up from last year, seeing as we had McDonald's apple pies and a McFlurry in my car. All in all, it was a success! Everything came out delicious and of course we'll both have more than enough leftovers for the rest of  the week. 

I baked the pumpkin cornbread earlier in the week knowing that I wanted to make a cornbread dressing (stuffing goes inside the bird, dressing is stand alone). It was really difficult having to leave half of the cornbread uneaten to dry out because it was so tasty! I had some drizzled with honey and lots of it crumbled with collard greens (the real southern way). Cornbread is foolproof to make and tastes best fresh out of the oven, so why not? 

Pumpkin skillet cornbread
11/4 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour 
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup milk
1 tbs butter 

1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
2. In a large bowl, mix together corn meal, flour, baking powder, and salt. 
3. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, pumpkin, and milk. Stir in with the dry ingredients. 
4. Warm skillet in the oven with the butter for about 2 minutes. 
5. Remove the skillet from the oven, pour in the pumpkin cornmeal batter, and smooth over the surface. 
6. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden / cracked. Cornbread is ready when an inserted toothpick/ chopstick/ cake tester comes out clean. 

The rosemary biscuit was this year's big experiment. In the past, I've attempted making challah and persimmon pie on Thanksgiving day, to no avail. I was a bit disheartened when I saw that my biscuit batter was very sticky kept on spreading while it was baking, but they turned out perfectly crisp on the outside and fluffily buttered on the inside. I still got to work on the presentation, but I promise the flavors and textures are all there. I will definitely be making biscuits more often now (this may be the best or worst idea ever), since it was all so simple!

Rosemary biscuits (makes 1 dozen) 
1 cup whole milk
1 tbs vinegar 
2 cups self-rising flour (I used White Lily brand)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter (or a combination with vegetable shortening)
1 tbs rosemary, chopped  
1 tsp canola oil 

1. Preheat oven to 475F. 
2. Add vinegar to milk (this is how you make homemade buttermilk) and set aside. 
3. In a large bowl, mix together flour, salt, and rosemary. Cut in the butter until you have coarse crumbs. 
4. Fold in the buttermilk. 
5. Place dough on a floured surface and knead 10-15 times. 
6. Scoop dough onto an oiled (canola oil) baking tray or skillet. (You can also use a small biscuit cutter to make perfectly shaped biscuits, but I don't own one ... yet)
7. Bake for 9-12 minutes or until tops and sides are golden brown. Serve fresh out of the oven! 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Smoked Turkey and Shrimp Spaghettini

'Tis the week before Thanksgiving, so it's the time of year when you see more turkey, sweet potato, and pumpkin in every recipe. Since Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays (what's not to like about being grateful for all that you have and a celebration with a feast?), I of course have to a shout out post featuring a version of its main star: the turkey. 

In my household, there's actually never a turkey on the table. Let's be honest: turkey is so dry and so much white meat. Instead, we opt for a delicious Cantonese style roasted whole pig (the amazing leftover ribs lasts for weeks!). But because of my FOMO, I do always try to have some turkey. Years ago it was turkey meatloaf, last year was turkey gumbo, and this time around I'll be doing a turkey sausage jambalaya! 

So in the turkey spirit, last week I bought a smoked turkey leg at the grocery store which was about the size and weight of my upper arm. I had plenty of leftovers, so I put it together with some gulf shrimp, cherry tomatoes, and spaghettini over arugula for a delicious dinner! 

Smoked turkey and shrimp spaghettini (serves 4)
1 pack spaghettini
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
4 oz smoked turkey, sliced 
1 lb shrimp, peeled and de-veined
3 tbs olive oil 
1/4 cup white wine (I used pinot grigio)
5 cloves garlic, slivered  
2 heads scallion, diced 
1/2 tsp Cajun spice
1/2 tsp black pepper 
2 cups arugula 

1. Cook spaghettini in boiling salted water as directed by the package
2. In a deep pan, brown garlic and scallion in 1 tbs olive oil
3. Add turkey and stir-fry
4. Once turkey is slightly seared, add white wine and tomatoes 
5. Add shrimp and stir -fry with Cajun spice and black pepper 
6. Once shrimp changes color thoroughly, incorporate spaghettini and olive oil. 
7. Mix well and serve over arugula 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Emeril's, New Orleans

Whenever a good friend comes to town, I do my homework and look up the best places to eat around New Orleans. After much speculation, my heart was set on trying Emeril's black truffle fried whole chicken for two and banana cream pie. My only problem was that my friend was treating me to dinner, so was it too much for me to pick to place and choose what we ate?

We show up to the restaurant, and I quickly find out that he's a fried chicken fan. I know, who isn't? But still, $60 for fried chicken is a lot of money! You think you know Emeril as that jovial chef of Food Network, but who knew about his classy side and vast interest in wine? Anyways, man was I on cloud 9 when I was eating the most buttery New Orleans style barbecue shrimp and rosemary biscuit waiting for this black truffle whole fried chicken.

The chicken arrived on a board with all the fixin's, including baked beans, fried corn, sweet potato salad, more rosemary biscuits and an arugula salad. The beans were sweet and homey and the fried corn not as good as it sounds. But man oh man that chicken. Boy was it juicy and tender and crispy and finger licking good! I can definitely eat it again right now if the world worked that way. Definitely recommend bringing friends and family here.

Oh, and the banana cream pie? Worth not eating that last piece of chicken for.

800 Tchoupitoulas Street
New Orleans, LA 

Epilogue: Emeril's fried chicken is great for leftover Sunday lunch as well! Though I must admit that I got the arugula to chicken ratio down better than he does. 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Homemade tomato bruschetta

When god give you tomatoes, you make tomato sauce. Or bruschetta. Down here in Louisana, it's the last of the tomato season so sometimes I come home from the farmers market with more than a dozen tomatoes for no more than $5. It's a no brainer to make sauce, but I was undoubtedly inspired by my favorite hometown neighborhood Italian restaurant to make my own bruschetta. When I was in New York, I had dinner at Trattoria Belvedere, and they gave each of us a generous helping of fresh tomato bruschetta on thick cut grilled Italian bread. So fresh and so good that I had to try making it at home! 

Homemade tomato bruschetta (serves 2-3)
1 tomato, chopped
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup of basil, chopped 
2 tbs olive oil 
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 pinch of brown sugar 
salt and black pepper to taste

1. Mix olive oil, vinegar, basil, garlic, and brown sugar in a bowl. Mix well and salt and pepper to taste.
2. Toss in tomatoes.
3. For best results, refrigerate at least 2-3 hours before serving.

Serve with good cheese and bread!

✓ vegetable
✓ vitamin C 
✓ unsaturated fat
✓ fiber

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Pecan coconut pear crisp

Today I did what anyone would want to do on a rainy autumn day: stay at home and bake apple crisp. After having tea with Mallory yesterday afternoon, she inspired me to use all the over ripe pears in my fridge in a pear crisp! So I made the pear crisp today with a pecan coconut oat crumble. So delicious and goes perfectly with a cup of warm tea. 

Pecan coconut pear crisp
3 medium pears, sliced thinly or into small chunks with skin on 
3/4 cup apple sauce (I just so happened to have some homemade apple sauce on hand!) 
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup pecans, crushed 
1/4 cup coconut flakes 
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp of butter, a little warmer than room temp 
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp all spice

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. 
2. In a mixing bowl, mix the butter, brown sugar, flour, oats, spices, pecans, and coconut flakes until crumbly. (Easier if you get down and dirty with your hands)
3. In a square baking dish, spread the sliced sliced pears and apple sauce evenly. 
4. Top the crumble mixture over the apples evenly.
5. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.

✓ fiber 
✓ whole grains 
✓ fruit
✓ nuts and healthy fats

Monday, October 12, 2015

My Habesha attempt: Gomen

I know I'm acclimated to living in the south because I now have a favorite collard greens recipe. I love it because it's flavorful, vegetarian (no fatty ham hock here), and it goes with everything. 

Gomen is an Ethiopian greens recipe, so of course it's meant to be eaten with injera, but I am not that pro yet to be fermenting my own teff batter at home, so I just served it with some Jamaican styled rice and peas and fried plantains. Fusion af. The original recipe was shared with me by Kristina, but I had to make some minor changes because I didn't have all the proper spices in my pantry. She suggested simmering for even longer than I did (based on the following photos) so that the greens become dark, withered, and very tender. I've cooked and refined the recipes several times since, so I know that it's a Linda kitchen staple now. 

1 lb collard greens, chopped
2 tbs clarified butter (ghee or kebeh)
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 small knob of ginger, chopped
1 small white onion, chopped
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp berbere 
1/4 tsp all spice
1 stick cinnamon
1 tbs lemon juice
salt, to taste

1. Bring greens to a boil in about 2 cups of water. Simmer until tender. Drain greens and set aside. Keep the water and set aside as well. 
2. In a deep pan, heat 1 tbs of clarified butter and sautee onions, ginger, and garlic until brown. 
3. Add in the drained collard greens, an additional spoonful of butter, and the leftover water into the pan and simmer on low heat with spices until all water evaporates and greens are tender. 

✓ fiber
✓ vitamin A
✓ vegetables

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

What I ate in New York

Pears: the other autumnal fruit | 97th Street Greenmarket

It's been a roller coaster ride for the past few months: graduation, an impromptu trip to Hong Kong and China, flying back and forth from New Orleans every other week, studying for the certification exam, becoming a registered dietitian, unemployment, endless cover letters and interviews, a shingles scare, and finally getting a job. Luckily I booked a trip back to New York (again) last week to celebrate my family's birthdays, so I was able to have a relaxing final vacation home before starting real life. Yup, that serious. Here are highlights from some of the wonderful things I ate in my hometown!

No trip to NY is complete without pizza | Marta

And you know this city never sleeps only because of its coffee infatuation | La Colombe
I was fooled by its cuteness | Paris Baguette
Nothing says fall like an heirloom tomato salad | Marta

The breakfast of champions for longevity | Hop Shing

Meatballs and a chewy crust; bliss | Nick's Pizzabar

Breakfast sandwiches are always worth waking up for | Clover Delicatessen 

When I die, bury me in a parmesan crust | Basta Pasta

Cold afternoons are for making sweet sticky rice balls with grandma

Can you name all the colors of the season? | Union Square Greenmarket

When you're full af but dessert is sticky toffee cake | Park Avenue Autumn

I'll admit it; I'm spoiled and blessed | Limani

Linguini in white clam sauce: classic | Basta Pasta

How much is that bagel in the window? | Tal Bagel

Baked eggs with homemade marinara sauce for breakfast because I can | Vic's

Too much hype | Ippudo

Best slice / parting slice / A1 since day 1 | Joe's Pizza

But alas, nothing beats a home cooked meal 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Domenica, New Orleans

I bet you weren't expecting a pizza post now that I'm living in New Orleans. But this is more than just a pizza post; this is also a happy hour post. I thought I found my favorite happy hour at Lüke a few months ago, where there are 75c raw oysters every afternoon, but now I got a new one: Domenica. Also owned by John Besh, Domenica is located inside the Roosevelt and dishes out half off artisan pizzas on the daily (2-5pm). Thank you Mr. Besh, for making happy hours that much happier.

Senai and I started a lunch club mid summer, where we would try to find the best lunch specials around town. It's not too difficult a task, but finding the best deals and dining with style is a bit more challenging. So in swoops Domenica with its fluffy pizza crusts and fancy toppings, completely sweeping the classy yet cheap eats category. We try to order something different every time, but I think we already found the clear winners. 
  • Must try: Clam - if you like linguini in white clam sauce, you will most definitely love this pie. Parmesan, clams, roasted garlic, and white wine sauce all atop the soft baked crust. I've never had anything like it before. 
  • Meat needers : Smoked Pork - ample amounts of pork with red onions, peppers, and salsa verde. Don't forget to dip the crust in lots of olive oil! 
  • Red sauce traditionalists: Calabrese - sometimes you just need something more familiar. This pizza comes with tomato and mozzarella as well as very flavorful spicy salami, capers, and olives. 
If you go with two other people, you just need two pies and a few beers to make it a full meal. If it's just a pair of you, order two and take an entire pie home for later! At $10 a person, it's so worth it. 

123 Baronne Street
New Orleans, LA

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Healing your body with food: spiced butternut squash bake

Last night, I put together an impromptu vegetarian/vegan dinner with select ingredients I happened to have in the kitchen, a lot of liberty with my spice collection, and a highly improvised Moroccan butternut squash stew recipe. In my recent practice of yoga and meditation, I've focused a lot of my studies on chakras and how to heal them. Turns out one of the most important things you can do for your body is to feed it with the right foods. Who would've guessed! So in preparing this dinner, I am also eating for the inner peace of my lower chakras based on the colors and ingredients chosen for this spiced bake. 

The root chakra* is the first chakra and is located at the base of the spine. It is associated with the color red and therefore linked with red foods and root vegetables. It is followed by the sacral chakra^ located right below the belly button. Here reigns the color orange and orange foods. The third chakra is the solar plexus°, located at the base of the sternum, and associated with the color yellow as well as complex carbohydrates. So in preparing this recipe, the combination of vegetables and spices should be healing for all your lower chakras. 
°To learn more about the solar plexus and even how to develop an aura and enjoy some time in the sun, check Henok's video

Spiced butternut squash bake
1 butternut squash^, cubed 
6 carrots*^, cut in small chunks 
1 small white onion*, chopped
1 knob ginger*, sliced 
1/4 cup almonds*^
3 tbs olive oil
2 tsp honey^
1 tsp masala spice°
1/2 tsp tumeric°
1/2 tsp salt
14 oz chickpeas*, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 
2. In a large mixing bowl toss together the butternut squash, carrots, onion, ginger, almonds, oilve oil, honey, salt masala spice, and tumeric.   
3. Place on a baking tray for 25 minutes.
4. Add chickpeas and dried cranberries and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until squash and carrots are tender and browned. 
5. Enjoy mindfully :) or on a bed of arugula (which is green and associated with the heart chakra)

✓ fiber
✓ vegetables
✓ lean protein
✓ unsaturated fats
✓ low sodium