Monday, December 26, 2016

Bananas Foster French Toast

I recently had new neighbors from Chile and Argentina move in. They're in New Orleans for a summer abroad to practice English and to work at Cafe du Monde. I told them that I had brunch at Surrey's earlier and had this delicious bananas foster French toast. To my surprise, they told me that they have never had either brunch or French toast before. How one lives life without ever having brunch simply baffles me, but I obviously arranged for us to have a homemade brunch with lots of French toast! 

Because I was making a large batch, I baked the soaked bread in the oven, but I made the recipe again a few nights later for a midnight snack and simply pan fried it all in the skillet. Both came out delicious, but I must give most of the credit to the buttery rummy bananas foster sauce. This is by no means a healthy recipe, just a delicious indulgence. Please don't judge the amount of butter or sugar used in the recreation of my NOLA inspired recipe. 

Served best with a cafe au lait! 

Bananas Foster French Toast (serves 4)
1/2 loaf day old French bread (about 6-8 thick slices) 
2 cups milk
4 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon

Bananas Foster Sauce: 
2-3 bananas, sliced
1 stick butter
1/3 cup rum
1/4 cup water
1/4 sugar

1. Mix together milk, eggs, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. 

 - Preheat oven to 325F
 - Line bread on oiled pan/skillet and pour milk mixture over. The bread should soak it all up. 
 - Bake for 25-35 minutes or until edges are crisp

 - Lightly oil pan on medium heat
 - Dip bread into milk mixture and fry both sides in pan until golden brown 

3. In the meantime, prepare bananas foster sauce. 
 - Melt together butter, rum, and sugar
 - Once bubbling, add bananas. Feel free to set on fire. (practice safety!) 
 - Remove from heat after 2 minutes, do not over cook bananas. 

4. Pour sauce over French toast

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Holiday party season: festive roasted acorn squash salad & spiced rum bundt cake

I holiday partied hard this year. From hotel ballrooms to Bourbon bar crawls, I did it all this merry season of joy. There were trays of jambalaya, skillets of bacon mac and cheese, the hams, the turkeys, and of course the endless booze. For our holiday dinner last night, I brought a festive seasonal salad (because I'm a dietitian) and a semi-homemade spiced rum cake for dessert (because time and balance). I wish I had more photos, but the party was too lit and the food too delicious. Blogger fail / priorities, though. Enjoy the recipes, I got many compliments and thanks for the salad. Under appreciated necessity on the dinner plate! 

Festive roasted acorn squash salad
1 lb salad greens (I had a spicy herby mix from the farmers market)
1 acorn squash, sliced
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup shaved parmesan 
4 - 5 tbsp balsamic reduction dressing*
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp maple syrup 
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp all spice
optional: coppa / charcuterie of choice

*Balsamic reduction dressing
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp black pepper
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Line baking sheet with acorn squash and walnuts. Drizzle olive oil, maple syrup, all spice, and salt. Toss and bake for 35-45 minutes or until edges of squash browned and flesh soft
3. When ready to serve, toss together roasted squash with greens, dressing and half of the pomegranate seeds and parmesan
4. Top the salad with the optional coppa, parmesan, and pomegranate seeds

✓ vegetables
✓ fruit
✓ fiber
✓ unsaturated fats

✓ vitamin A
✓ vitamin C

Semi-homemade spiced rum cake
1 box spice cake mix
1 pack vanilla pudding mix
1/2 cup pecans, crushed
1/2 cup dried cherries 
4 eggs
4 oz buttermilk (I used 1/2 cup milk with 1 tsp vinegar)
4 oz cup rum
4 oz oil (I used avocado, olive / canola are fine) 

Butter rum glaze
1 stick butter
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup rum
1/4 cup water

1. Preheat oven to 325F
2. Lightly oil a non-stick bundt cake pan. Sprinkle bottom of the pan with crushed pecans
3. Combine the remaining of all cake ingredients and mix until smooth
4. Pour batter into bundt cake pan and bake for 1 hour
5. In the last 15 minutes if baking time, prepare the butter rum glaze. Reduce all ingredients in a small saucepan
6. Once bundt cake is prepared, pour a third of the rum glaze over the cake. Allow to set for 5 minutes
7. Flip over bundt cake onto a serving dish, poke numerous holes into the cake, and slowly pour the remainder rum glaze over the cake. Allow to set for at least half an hour for rum to absorb before serving 

Grateful for good food and great friends!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

How you like 'em hot cakes

I was never a pancake (or bacon) person until I moved to the south. Not that pancakes are a southern thing, but I've just started appreciating them more. As y'all know, I'm horrible at following recipes, so here's a recipe for everyone like me that just loves cooking. Go crazy with the substitutions, the add-ins, and the free styling. I promise the pancakes will always plate perfectly. 

How you like 'em hot cakes (4 servings / ~6, 6-in cakes) 
2/3 cup flour 
1/3 cup flour of choice (whole wheat, almond, coconut, etc) 
1/4 cup fibrous add in of choice (flax meal, oats, barley, etc) 
3/4 milk of choice (cow's, soy, coconut, etc) 
1 egg 
1/2 cup nuts/seeds of choice (pecans, walnuts, pistachios, etc) 
1/4 cup add-ins of choice (coconut flakes, black sesame powder, blueberries, etc) 
1 tbsp sugar 
1 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp spice of choice (cinnamon, all spice, tumeric, etc) 
1/4 tsp salt fat of choice (olive oil, avocado oil, peanut oil, etc) 

1. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix all together wet ingredients and then fold into dry ingredients until a smooth consistent texture forms. 
2. Heat a small pan to medium heat. Spread 1/2 tsp oil evenly on the pan. 
3. Ladle out 2 - 3 tbsp of batter in the center of the pan. 
4. Once cake starts bubbling, check the bottom side and flip at desired golden brown-ness. 
5. Make a stack Serve with maple syrup and your favorite fresh fruit

✓ whole grains
✓ fiber
✓ unsaturated fats

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

New York, New York it's a wonderful town!

Visiting home is always such a delight. In recent years, I've realized that Thanksgiving is my family's holiday. We take Thanksgiving to the next level. Not only is there a roast pig, but there are sides galore. This year we had macaroni and cheese, skillet corn bread, green bean casserole, jambalaya, roasted corn salad, maple mashed yams, and endless pie and cheesecake. The entire weekend is a gluttonous ordeal of parading Peking ducks, dancing dim sum carts, and cascading cheese plates. The following photos do not even begin to do my digestive system justice. It was sure put to work this past week. Ever so grateful for my lovely restaurant dependent parents and generous friends, sharing meals would not be the same without y'all!

It all started at the Union Square Greenmarket

Herb foccacia at NoMad
Homemade bagel brunch on point

Happy Thanksgiving! Roast pig for all! 
Black Friday leftovers party, Chinese edition feat. Popeye's turkey

Sea bream at Milo's, now serving 3-course $29 lunch prefixe!

Amazing yogurt martini at Milo's

Spotted at the (original JP) Morgan Library 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Linda's bouillabaisse moqueca fish stew

This is neither a true bouillabaisse nor moqueca recipe. This is a recipe inspired by my many years of savoring hearty seafood soups. A tomato base was a very common theme, as was some sort of cream base. For my stew, I first created a stock with the shells and heads of freshly peeled Louisiana shrimp and vegetables before mixing in the okra as my thickener and coconut milk as my creamer. This slow cooked in the Dutch oven (so temped to call it my Dutch baby) for hours (then more hours the next day) before finally adding the fish and shrimp before serving and fresh cilantro for garnish. I scooped two jars for the freezer (leftovers always) and enjoyed the rest of the pot with thick sliced country bread and cheese. I love fall. 

Linda's bouillabaisse moqueca fish stew
1 lb fresh whole shrimp, peeled and deveined (separate peel+heads, store/refrigerate meat)
1/2 lb meaty fish, cut (I used redfish)
1/2 lb fatty fish, cut (I used slamon)
2 cups red sauce or chopped tomatoes
6 oz coconut milk
6 oz white wine
1/2 cup black beans, presoaked for >12 hrs
1 cups okra, sliced
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 banana pepper, sliced
1 scotch bonnet pepper
3 cloves of garlic, whole
1 bay leaf
1 pinch saffron threads
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp Cajun spice
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp white pepper
2-3 tbsp olive oil
to serve: cilantro

1. In a Dutch oven, sautee onion, peppers, and garlic in olive oil
2. Once browned, add white wine. Mix in red sauce, coconut milk, shrimp peels and heads, and black beans. Bring to a boil
3. Add okra, spices, turn heat down to low, cover and simmer for 2 - 3 hours or until beans are cooked.
- at this point, you can choose to let it cool down overnight to let the flavors soak in, or just keep going-
4. Turn heat off, add fish and shrimp. Allow to insulate for 15-20 minutes
5. Garnish with cilantro and serve!

BONUS inspirational photo:

Life with a Dutch oven has been wonderful! I've just been gathering all leftovers and random fresh vegetables at the market and dumping it all into this lovely melting pot. Featured above is a turkey leg bone (majority of turkey meat went to cat food) stew with mirliton, kale, and chickpeas. Same tomato white wine base as my fish stew!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Cirque de Cuisine in the French Quarter

Juniper-citrus cured steelhead trout with pickled fennel, fermented mustard by Chais Delachaise

A few Sundays ago, I joined a self guided kitchen tour of the French Quarter hosted by the Southern Food and Beverage Museum: Cirque de Cuisine! It was a 4 hour extravaganza with 10 kitchen stops overflowing with wine and small bites. I am obviously always down for the food, but what made me really excited to join this tour was that I got to step inside so many French Quarter homes! I was pleasantly surprised, astounded, and impressed by the whole lot of them. Who knew how spacious some homes could be? Or how many artists lived in the quarter? If there wasn't a courtyard and a pool, there was most definitely a sweeping balcony. Local restaurants were stationed at each kitchen to provide mostly seafood and all delicious hors d'oeuvres-esque bites. There were lots of wine pairings, some refreshing cocktails, oh, and the kitchens were fancy, too. Highly recommend to anyone who is lucky enough to be visiting New Orleans when this event is hosted again! 

Cajun country gumbo with potato salad by Chef Paul Prudhomme's team

Egg yolk carpaccio, grilled shrimp, and crispy sweet potato with andouille vinaigrette by Brennan's

Blue crab cucumber cups with salmon roe by Trinity

Smoked scallop tostada with avocado puree and bergamot cream by Rebel Restaurant Group

Melted leek tart with chive sour cream and Louisiana caviar by Sucre

Fresh local oysters by Two Girls, One Shuck

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A long weekend in Quebec

Customized poutine au poivre at Poutineville
Bonjour! I'm back in the south, but I spent half of last week way up north in Quebec, my favorite province in Canada. I took a ladies trip with my mom and my grandmother (though everyone thought my grandma was my mother and my mom and I were sisters), which means we stayed in ritzy hotels and did lots of eating. What else is new? 

For me, the best thing about Quebec is that everyone speaks French and the food is also heavily French inspired. I've been to Montreal before, an energetic city that is easily navigable. Showed my family the staples (poutine, foie gras, and bagels) and also had lots of French inspired seafood (dover sole meuniere, oysters mornay). It was all of our first times in Quebec City, which has the most charming architecture, giving it a small provincial town a la Beauty and the Beast vibe. For convenience, we did a lot of hotel dining, which came with endless smoked salmon, duck terrine, liver pate, and real Canadian bacon (very reminiscent of hong shao rou with maple syrup). Simply a wonderful weekend with lovely early autumnal views and feels. 

Up at Chalet du Mont Royal, Montreal behind me
Fresh bagels at St. Viateur in Mile End
Highlight: ricotta stuffed "strawberries" at Maison Boulud
Basilica Notre Dame in old Montreal
Duck patte atop crispy rice at the wildly inventive and solely locally sourced Légende

Chateau Frontenac of Quebec City
Breakfast buffet at Place Dufferin inside the Chateau Frontenac 
Highlight of the meal: poached foie gras at Panache
Shrimp salad and arctic char at Restaurant Légende
Side walk cafeing at The Smith
Quebec City from a helicopter!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Sticky rice two ways: mango coconut, scallion mushroom

Living in the south is confusing. I know it's fall because it's been cooler ... as in it's only been in the high 80's in the morning these days. So even though it's autumn, it feels perfectly good eating mango sticky rice when I get inside from that Louisiana heat. 

I love sticky rice. It's sweet, it's got a nice bite. It's higher in calorie and more dense, but oh does it carry flavor. I called up my grandma for her basic instructions on how to steam sticky rice, and I improvised the rest to recreate my favorite Thai dessert. For the savory version I used a simple recipe from my other grandmother and it paired perfectly with my pan seared gulf drum. 

Perfect transitional post because sticky rice is eaten when the weather gets colder because it sticks to your belly and warms you up! 

My Mid-Autumn Festival dinner, complete with mooncake! 

Mango Coconut Sticky Rice
1 cup glutinous rice, presoaked in water for 30 min 
~ 6 oz coconut milk
1 ripe mango, sliced
to serve: sweetened condensed milk, mint 

1. Prepare a large pot for steaming.* 
2. Fill flat dish with presoaked rice.
3, Pour in coconut milk until it is level with the rice
4. Steam for 45 - 60 min or until rice is cooked
5. Serve with fresh sliced mango and drizzled sweetened condensed milk 

*I used a deep skillet, a wire rack, and flat dish as my steaming contraption  

Scallion Mushroom Sticky Rice
1 cup glutinous rice, presoaked in water for 30 min 
~ 6 oz water/rice wine, 2:1 ratio 
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced 
1 tbsp dried shrimp 
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
pinch of salt
Optional: 1 link Chinese sausage, sliced
to serve: sliced scallions, cilantro

1. Prepare a large pot for steaming.* 
2. Fill flat dish with presoaked rice
3. Pour in water/rice wine until it is level with the rice
4. Mix in mushrooms, shrimp, soy sauce, and salt
5 Steam for 45-60 min or until rice is cooked
6. Drizzle with sesame oil and top with scallions and parsley before serving 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

On ramen

The worst part about growing up is no longer being able to go on vacations with your parents. The best part? Receiving delicious care packages in the mail once they return from their travels. 

yes, those are wasabi Kit Kats.
When my parents came back from their trip to Japan to see the cherry blossoms, they returned with lots of goodies to share. My favorite was this fresh ramen pack (not featured in the photo below) that came with this rich fatty pork based sauce packet. Though I didn't have the char siu to go with my ramen, the soup base definitely convinced me otherwise. 

So this is not a real blog post. It's just some tips on how to make your homemade packaged ramen more than just plain ramen with... and an attempt to make ramen somewhat healthier. 

My ramens of choice (for flavor and texture) are the original Nissin with sesame oil and Shin ramyun. To be honest, I've been having a love/hate relationship recently. I love ramen because who doesn't love ramen? But because I've been eating ramen way less frequently than my college days (twice a year compared to twice a week), I've recently been having very negative reactions to it. I can no longer eat an entire pack (2 servings) without having to drink a gallon of water and take a long nap right afterwards. I don't know how I did it so often in college. So now whenever I make instant ramen, I can only have half a pack at a time. Yes, I save half the seasoning pack too. 

Nutrition-wise, this is definitely the way to go. At 40 - 45 gm of carbohydrates and 900 - 1000 mg of sodium a serving, no one needs 2 servings at once. And now that I'm an adult and a real person, there's no excuse to having plain ramen. Ramen is incomplete without some sort of egg yolky egg and some greens. The greens can be as simple as some fresh scallion on top, or I love serving my ramen with a side of vegetables for the fiber and other myriad of health benefits that come with eating greens. And no need to stop there, I've also made ramen bases with shiitake mushrooms and dried shrimp fry. The possibilities are endless to make your ramen less basic and a little healthier! 

Fun fact: in Cantonese, we call instant ramen "gong zai meen," which translates to doll noodles. I'm guessing because it's curly like a doll's hair. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Peach Ice Box Pie

I have a new favorite season. Peach season. How was it so fleeting? When I asked the farmers at the market what type of peaches they'll have next week, they told me that they were out and to see them next year. It came and went, leaving me with the sweetest taste in my daydreams. To preserve some of that summer goodness, I decided to sacrifice two of my ripest plumpest peaches for an ice box pie. 

Because you know me, and I can't seem to follow directions, I made my own version of the decadent southern dessert. I crushed up shortbread biscuits for the crust and mixed the sweetened condensed milk with coconut milk. Perfect pie for a late summer Louisiana afternoon! 

Coconut Peach Icebox Pie
2 peaches, sliced

for the crust: 
1 cup almond flour
6 pieces shortbread biscuit, crushed
2 tbs butter, melted
1 tbs coconut oil, melted
2 tbs maple syrup 

for the filling:
8 oz sweetened condensed milk
4 oz coconut milk
2 tbs lemon juice

to serve: mint leaves

1. Mix together all ingredients for the crust and press down evenly into a pie dish. Place in freezer for at least 2 hours. 
2. Remove pie dish from freezer and line with peach slices.
3. Pour filling over peach, place in freezer for 3-5 hrs or until frozen. 
4. Thaw for 5-10 minutes before serving 
5. Serve with mint!