Lost Connections

29 10 2014

When I was a teenager, still young and oh-so impressionable, I was introduced to this older woman who I deeply admired. We volunteered together and frequently met up for meals and coffee and chat sessions. She had a successful career and disposable income, took care of her younger siblings, spoke her mind, had nice hair, snowboarded on weekends, dressed well – all these traits I picked up on when I was younger. I really looked up to her and saw her as a great older sister/ role model that I never had. To a certain extent, I hoped that I could be as poised and put together and sure of my place in the world as she was by the time I was her age. Over the years, I went off to college then left for NYC, and had nominal interactions with her, as such things happen given time and distance. We were still friendly and I continued to have fond memories of her.

Sliced

Kale, Sausage and Potato Frittata

Ingredients
1 bunch of kale (Dino is great here), cleaned, de-stemmed, rough chop
1 small yellow onion, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, rough mince
2-3 large Russett potatoes, peeled, small diced and cooked (boiled or otherwise)
3 breakfast sausage links, casing removed and rough chop
8 eggs
1/2 cup of grated Parmigiano Reggiano (or to taste)
a few dashes of red pepper flakes, to taste [cayenne works too]
salt & pepper to taste

Directions
Preheat oven to the Broil setting at 450*F.
In a large bowl, whisk all the eggs and half of the grated Parm and generously season with salt + pepper + pepper flakes (all to taste). In a large skillet on medium-high heat, add the sausage meat and use a spatula or wooden spoon to break up the meat as it cooks. The sausage meat is pretty fatty, so no additional cooking oil will be needed. Once the sausage meat has browned up, add the diced onion and garlic, cooking until fragrant and the onions are soft. Add the potatoes and give it a few minutes to warm up. Throw in the kale, giving it a quick turn. Pour in the whisked eggs and stir to combine the wet and dry ingredients. Let the frittata set for another minute or two on the stove. Top the frittata with the remaining grated Parm and bake until the eggs are fully set, maybe 6-8 minutes / when the top is golden. Once cooked through, the frittata is best served a bit cooler, giving the eggs a chance to set and congeal a bit. If you are impatient like I was, the eggs will still be a bit wet and your frittata will fall apart once you’ve sliced it into pieces. Doesn’t matter – it’s still delish.

PreBake

The beautiful thing is that the crust is crisp thanks to the Parmigiano AND the browned kale – it’s like you get a frittata and free cheesy kale chips too! Win-win. It’s a quick Sunday brunch meal but also something you could serve up in a sandwich (like this) or with a salad. There are infinite permutations possible – all more satisfying than the next. Try it out for yourself and let me know how it goes!

SideView

Recently, I got wind of her from another friend – she’s married now and has a lovely baby on the way, but my fond memories were savagely destroyed. What I had thought was amiability was actually a deep annoyance and dislike for me. I couldn’t tell you the root cause, as she never once told me anything or hinted that she was annoyed or disliked me. It continues to eat at me that she never gave me the opportunity to understand why or at least give me an option to remedy things – and instead I find out from a third party. For someone I sooo admired, this behavior seemed a bit petty and passive aggressive – not a very mature way of handling things. As an adult, I already find it difficult to make new good friends. It’s hard when you learn, that you’re losing the same ones you thought you had. Though I am saddened by this, I guess my lesson here is that there are some things completely outside of your control. I could yearn and wish for that relationship and a deep connection with someone, but if it’s not mutual – it would never happen or be as fulfilling or sustainable as I craved. I mourn this lost connection, but now value (more than ever) those I still have.

Thanks for reading,
AnhD





When I’m 64

26 10 2014

When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a valentine
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?
If I’d been out til quarter to three
Would you lock the door?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four?

or something a bit more modern and a bit more chilling…

Will you still love me
When I’m no longer young and beautiful?
Will you still love me
When I got nothing but my aching soul?
I know you will, I know you will
I know that you will
Will you still love me when I’m no longer beautiful?

It’s a bit agonizing to think about. These thoughts have been haunting me the last few weeks, and will likely continue to haunt me to my wedding day and for the rest of my life. When the beauty fades, the skin sags, the brain addles, the eyes cloud – what’s left to love? If you thought girls in their teens have self esteem issues, what happens when women hit menopause or retirement? The estrogen levels decrease, the facial hair grows in but the hair on your head falls out. What is left to make a girl feel beautiful? What is left for a girl in her 60s to feel validated and loved?

Flat

I know a woman in her late 60s – she’s been a stay-at-home-mom for over 35 years, closely and tenderly raising 3 boys, who are now strapping, strong young men, any woman would be proud to call sons. They love and defend her fiercely. One day, while getting ready for a festive formal event, she pulls from her closet a few of her old outfits – Vietnamese dresses or Áo dài, a few floor length gowns that are outdated but still lovely, and a few other accessories from decades ago. She runs her fingers over the embellishments and stitching, marveling at how small her waist use to be, how thin her arms were, how petite were her shoulders. As she does so, her husband, looks over and warns her to put the items away – she would look atrocious in them! The words sting, but can she disagree? She notes the dimples in her arms, the thickness around her waist and hips, the fullness of her thighs – he’s right. Time has not been kind to her. And yet there was her husband – in his 60s as well, but still climbing that corporate/social ladder, still running every day, still biking and tennis, still the spitting image of health and vitality. Time has not been kind. She tucks away the finery in their garment bags in the deepest corner of her closet. She settles on a nondescript black suit, ill-fitting and lumpy – better to hide herself in. She completes the look with a pair of lackluster black clogs – low to the ground and matching the rest of her ensemble. An ensemble she deeply wishes does not repulse her husband.

This is not the fate I want for myself, or for any woman. I use to think all those self-esteem issues disappeared after high school. Then when I got to college/post-college, I realized that most women still carry that with them. And I’ve been told by friends in their late 20s and 30s with children, that it doesn’t stop – having children will throw a woman into all sorts of self-esteem conundrums. Then there’s menopause. It never ends.

Bitten

Pumpkin Sugar Cookies
Source: Creme de la Crumb

Ingredients
½ c butter, softened
4 tbs pumpkin puree
1/2 c sugar
1/3 c powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
2 cup flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Directions
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light & fluffy. Add the pumpkin, eggs and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and mix just until incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350*F. Roll out balls of dough the size of a walnut and roll each ball in a shallow dish of granulated sugar. Place on baking sheet and use a tall glass to flatten the dough balls to about 1/2 inch thick discs. Bake for about 12-14 minutes until the edges crisp. These cookies are quite pale even when fully baked. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack. Enjoy as is or top with your favorite cream cheese frosting.

These soft, cakey cookies are slightly spiced and only lightly colored – but they make for a great afternoon snack with a bit of tea or coffee. Really hits the spot. They are also reminiscent of the soft Lofthouse cookies that I love so much, though less processed and more exciting than just regular sugar cookies.

Stacked

Just recently, I took the aforementioned women shopping with me. She picked up a few items and clearly liked a couple of them, but resigned to put them back on the rack for another trip. For another trip with her husband – she wanted her husband to feel comfortable with the fabrics and cuts she had chosen, to make sure he would not find them repulsive or aged or embarrassing. I silently fumed – I wanted so badly to say that it didn’t matter. As women, we should wear clothes that makes us feel wholesome and pretty and empowered. That’s not for any man to dictate. I wanted to yell at her husband for making her feel this way. I was enraged and yet so powerless at the same time. She’s been living like this for decades! No amount of me haranguing her would change her outlook. If this were me, I would rather be alone then suffer such indignation. Do all relationships end this way? Is this what old age looks like? I can’t be sure, but it sure as hell is terrifying. Is this what I have to look forward to when I’m 64?

Thanks for reading,
AnhD





You & I

2 09 2014

Don’t you worry there my honey,
We might not have any money,
But we have our love to pay the bills…

If only that were true! With the new house and the impending wedding (5 months until show time), the bills really seem to be multiplying. I’m in a rush to make the house livable and inviting – lots of new kitchen knick knacks and fragrant candles and intimate linens and dreamy curtains. Not all of this is strictly necessary, but it does help make a house feel more like a home. I’ve also been doing more wedding research and have been inspired by a flood of lovely ideas – more mercury glass votives, cute DIY dessert tables, bountiful hors d’oeuvres. Unfortunately, this all results in new contractors, new vendors, new appliances, new trinkets, and of course – new bills. We’ve been pretty worried about the finances lately, and have tried to make small lifestyle adjustments while trying to sustain as much of our old life as possible. It hasn’t been easy, and sometimes we’ve been so consumed with chasing paper that we forget why/how we ended up in this position in the first place.

Raw

Soba Noodle Salad
Perfect for these warm days – minimal cooking required and whips up really quickly. Like most good things, it is endlessly adaptable. Use whatever raw veggies you have on hand. Nix the chicken or add some other protein – tofu chunks or edamame or BACON work really well. A mandolin here might help with prepping the veggies if you have one, but I did this all by hand – piece of cake. The dressing is sweet and tangy and also easily adjusted to suit your taste. Enjoy!

Ingredients
1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
3-4 stalks of celery, small dice
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 green cabbage, thinly sliced
4 servings of soba noodles (Japanese buckwheat noodles)
2 cooked chicken thighs, shredded

Dressing:
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbs peanut butter (creamy or chunky; other nut butters work too)
1/4 c soy sauce
3 tbs honey, or to taste
juice of 1 lime, or about 1-2 tbs, or to taste
2 tbs chili oil (or wasabi + sesame oil)
2 serano chiles, seeds removed and small diced

Directions
Cook the soba noodles according to the package instructions. Typically, just bring a pot of water to a boil, add the noodles and allow pot to come back to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 5-10mins or until the noodles are cooked through – soft and springy, but not mushy. Remove from heat, drain and rinse with cold water.
Whisk all the dressing ingredients in a bowl. In a separate large bowl, add all salad ingredients and toss with the dressing. Let sit for 15mins before serving to let the flavors soak into the salad, and serve at room temperature.
Tossed

Let’s get rich and build a house on a mountain making everybody look like ants
From way up there, you and I, you and I

Bowl

Thanks for stopping by,
AnhD





Hubris

29 08 2014

Hubris:ˈ(h)yo͞obris/ – extreme pride or self-confidence that leads to unacceptable offense spoken or done towards the (usually Greek) gods, resulting in harsh consequences, as commonly depicted in Greek tragedies (Oedipus, Odysseus, Creon, Agamemnon, etc.)

I acknowledge I suffer from insufferable hubris. It’s a tragic character flaw, and one that’s not easily changed or forgiven. It stems from a source of good fortune and entitlement, yet it’s so easily mistaken for self possessed skill and self proclaimed importance. What is simply luck of the draw at birth, becomes a heavy cloak used to disguise insecurities. I’ve learned enough from Sophocles to know that I need to constantly look over my shoulder to see when the gods will strike. I suppose a little bit of foresight and conscious and intentional patience and humility don’t hurt.

Stackd

These coconut cookies are magical. Given the high browned butter and coconut content, the cookie melts in your mouth with lovely caramely, nutty and coconut flavor. Every bite is so full of coconut, giving it infinite texture (see close-up pic above) – making it so fun to eat. I think in the future I will play around and add crushed macadamia nuts or cashews or pecans ooh! Or maybe even some key lime zest to complement the coconut and browned butter. This one’s a winner. Enjoy!

Brown Butter Coconut Cookies
Source: Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients
1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 tbs water, or more as needed
1/2 c + 2 tbs granulated sugar
3/4 c light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 c + 3 tbs all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 tsp fleur de sel, eye-balled or to taste
4 c dried, unsweetened coconut flakes

Directions
In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat until it stops crackling and turns a dark brown color, making sure to scrape up any solids at the bottom of the pan. Sometimes I take my eye off the pan, and the butter turns almost CHARCOAL – not to worry – it’s still good. I’ve used CHARCOAL butter successfully before, but you probably want to keep it at the dark brown stage… oops. Remove from heat and let it cool a bit before pouring the liquid and any solids into a measuring cup. LET IT COOL FIRST, then add about 2 tbs of water (or as needed) to bring the amount back to 1 cup. Please, please let it cool first – or else it will fizz and splash and you will get those nasty hot grease burn marks on your hand. Let the butter cool and solidify completely (the freezer is ok!), about an hour or two.

Preheat oven to 350*.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, scrape the solidified browned butter and give it a whirl to help soften it. Add both brown and granulated sugar and mix until fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla, scraping down the bowl as needed. In a separate bowl, whisk together flower, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture to the mixing bowl in 2 installments, making sure it’s thoroughly combined before the next flour addition. Lastly, add the coconut in 2 installments as well.

Dough

Drop about a 1.5 tablespoons balls of dough onto a lined baking sheet, giving each dough ball a lot of room for spreading. Flatting each ball with the back of a spoon. Bake tray for 11-13 minutes or until golden brown. These cookies spread a ton and should be pretty flat. If they haven’t spread as much as you’ve liked, add another teaspoon or two of water, mix, bake, and monitor cookie spread. Bake remaining cookies until golden brown. The centers should still be pliable, but the edges should be on the crisp side. Let cool on baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Enjoy as is, or with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream or a big glass of milk – or however you like to enjoy your cookies. Yum.

Close Up

I know a man who forgot to look over his shoulder. He did not read Sophocles. He forgot that his cloak was god-given and not man made. He realized only too late – and when he did, those successes and victories and glories were stripped from him, one by one. And all he had left was his experience to rebuild. Experience and his wrinkled, grit-stained, aged hands. That taught him humility. And with humility and resilience he rebuilds. Brick by brick. Stone by stone. Not cursing the gods, but silently counting his blessings, and accepting his punishment. This same fate runs in my blood. I fear its imminence. I fear its untimeliness. I fear its consequences and my inability to be resilient. Funny this hubris – it gives you all the confidence in the world, and so suddenly disappears when are punished by it.

Thanks for reading,
AnhD





Heroine Addiction

11 08 2014

There is an entire genre of literature devoted to female protagonists who charge about their plotlines discovering themselves and finding purpose in their existence. I am a sucker for these books – I always love a strong female lead, particularly when she defies typical female gender roles or the male-dominant narrative. As a girl, I wanted to grow up to be like Sally Lockheart, Jo March, or Hermione Granger. As I got older, I learned to love Jane Eyre, Elizabeth Bennett, Lisbeth Salander, and Katniss Everdeen. Even the stories of Edna Pontellier and Alma Whittaker, while more subtle and not as action-packed, still resonate with me as I ease into my adult life and continue to define who I am and who I want to be. I’m sure you can name some of your favorite female heroines as well. Having been raised in a family of pretty rational and level-headed women and having spent my most impressionable teenage years at an all-girls institution, and then time at some of the (arguably) most liberal schools in the US – this does not come as a surprise. What I’ve come to realize is that at the center of all these female characters is a strong and healthy dose of self-respect. Despite all these strong female role models, whether fictional or not, it’s a damn shame when I know and see real women who lack this self-respect. And I’m sure we all see it all the time. That girl who doesn’t love herself. The ones without her own goals or aspirations.The one who heavily relies on superficial measures of success or accomplishment to feel self-worth. The one who needs shallow words and sugary phrases for affirmation.

Raw

How do we teach the next generation of girls to be full of self-respect? To love the bodies and brains and hearts and dreams and aspirations that they were born with? How do we instill in our girls a deep sense of self-love and not self-loathe? On the other end, how do we get boys (and later men) to support and respect these lovely bodies and brains and hearts and dreams and aspirations?

Cooking

Since getting our keys, David and I have been slowly making our new house ready for habitation. We’ve built a gate, installed screen doors, wired and installed cat6 wall plates – the list goes on. I’m not great at these home improvement projects… I’m much better suited indoors where I can decorate and fill our new closets and shelves with pretty things. We’ve also done a fair bit of cooking at the new place – nothing fancy – just simple weeknight meals to fill us up after a long day of work-work and home-work.

Thai Red Curry
One of the easiest and most satisfying weeknight meals has got to be Thai red curry. It is infinitely customizable with whatever proteins and veggies you have in the kitchen. Most of the hard work and difficult ingredients (grinding shrimp paste with galangal, lemongrass, and kaffir leaves etc.) are already conveniently done if you can find the red curry jars at your local supermarket. Look for the concentrated curry paste and not the instant-just-add-veggies jar of red curry if possible. If you prefer the homemade route, it’s actually really easy if you have a food processor or blender. Just add all the ingredients and whiz for a lovely preservative-free red curry paste (here).

Source: Adapted from Pinch of Yum

Ingredients
1 can light coconut milk
2 tbs peanut butter, creamy or chunky
2-3 tbs red curry paste, concentrate [I like my curries pungent and added closer to 3-4 tbs]
1-2 tbs fish sauce or to taste
2 tbs lime or lemon juice
2-3 tbs brown sugar
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
¼ cup crushed nuts [I used cashew nuts but peanuts work great]
½ cup chicken or veggie broth
Assortment of raw protein and veggies – I used diced chicken thighs, julienedbell peppers, carrots, broccoli and sliced onions.

Directions
About 30-60 minutes before serving, quickly marinate your protein of choice with 1 tbs of fish sauce and 1-2 tbs of minced garlic.

In a tall skillet or seasoned wok over high heat, add a tiny splash of vegetable oil. Once hot, throw in your protein and stir fry until meat is evenly browned, though not yet cooked all the way through. Pour the coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Then add the curry paste, peanut butter, fish sauce, lemon/lime juice, brown sugar and additional garlic, whisking frequently until the sauce is reduced and thickened, about 15-20 minutes on medium high heat. The sauce will turn a rich amber color as it reduces. Add in the veggies and cook down until soft. The veggies will release a fair amount of liquid into your curry, but if the sauce is still too thick, add a bit of veggie or chicken broth to thin it out per your liking. Toss in a handful of crushed nuts to add some additional body and texture to the curry. Take your curry off the heat and top with additional crushed nuts and thinly sliced scallions. Serve over hot, fragrant jasmine rice. Enjoy.

Plated

I recently went to the Beyonce/Jay Z On The Run Tour, and a lot of the themes focused on just that – women and self-worth and empowerment. At one point, the big jumbotrons postulated why is it that we teach women and girls to compete with each other for men’s attention, and why we teach girls to aspire to happy relationships and marriages – and yet we don’t teach boys and men to aspire to the same thing. While Queen Bey reassures us that we can still find joy, pride and meaning in our relationships and marriages, she reminds all women to take a moment and make sure that we are also pursuing and fulfilling our personal goals too. Her strong words, empowering songs and kick-ass demeanor are motivational. She is my non-fictional heroine. I am addicted.

Thanks for reading,
AnhD

PS. I am suffering from On The Run withdrawals – I may have shed a few tears while Queen Bey soulfully poured her heart out during “Resentment” and I cheered every time she and Jay embraced. In addition to being a sucker for heroines, I am a sucker for heroines like her who are “leaning in” real hard. Grappling with a successful career, balancing personal goals and family aspirations, preaching to a generation of girls deprived of relatable role models. Now if only these girls would take more after their Queen…





Deus Ex Machina

15 07 2014

I feel like I am in a trance. A dreamlike state where everything just goes according to plan. A whirlwind of events that were all well conducted, fluid and graceful and without error. In retrospect, everything was gold-hued and warm-toned, gilded in a surprising amount of good fortune. That’s how my last few weeks have been – there is definitely some sort of deus ex machina at work here.

After being engaged for 2 years, we finally celebrated our engagement – a 160+ people party held in my parent’s backyard. By all accounts, it had the potential to be a crazy, disorganized event. At 160 people, it’s bigger than some weddings. But thanks to early planning, frequent communication between all the stakeholders (aren’t I such a great management consultant?), lots of time spent on personalized DIY-ing, and purposeful execution, the event went without any major hitches. And it was fun and beautiful:

Collage

I also helped out at a number of events last month with Vo Floral Design – I cannot compliment these girls enough. They are magicians with flowers. If anyone in the Bay Area has an event that needs a lovely touch, I highly recommend reaching out to VFD. They always go above and beyond what’s required. As an intern I’ve learned so much and as a future bride, I can totally appreciate what these girls go through for their brides.

Collage

My weekends have been pretty busy as you can tell. I also (quietly) celebrated my 26th year and also (quietly) closed on a house. Yes, after a year of searching and about 10 rejected offers later, we officially have a home. We couldn’t be more thrilled (or more in debt!). I never thought it would come to this – up to now, the market seemed just unrelentingly impossible, but there must have been a bit of divine intervention, because here we are! I can’t wait to blog from my new kitchen and give you a photo tour after we decorate. Until then, here’s a great summer staple. Grilled corn on the cob – delicious as is, but easily transformed in countless ways. I detail three ways below.

Tray

Corn on The Cob

Ingredients
Corn cobs, husks and silk removed
*alternatively, you could leave the husks on and remove after grilled, but I find it’s faster this way

Directions
Over a hot charcoal grill (gas grills just aren’t ever as good), place de-husked corn cobs and grill, rotating often to ensure an even brown. The kernels will blister and you may even get a few too-dark ears, but I swear, there is a ton of flavor in that char. Overall, the cooking process should take about 10 minutes per ear. Once the kernels of corn are bloated and swollen with steam and heat, remove to a plate and prepare to dress with the following toppings.

Grill

Grilllllz

A la Cafe Habana
If you’ve ever been to Cafe Habana in NYC, you will know exactly what I’m talking about – the pinnacle of hot summer days in the concrete jungle are made special by spicy, sweet, buttery cobs of corn from Cafe Habana washed down with a tall lemon-limeade.

Ingredients
4 ears of corn, grilled
2 tbs butter, very soft
1/4 c mayonnaise
1/2 c grated cotija
1-2 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste
small handful of cilantro, leaves and tender stems minced.
a few wedges of lime to serve

Directions
In a small bowl, combine the butter and mayonnaise. Spread mixture over the still hot ears of corn, then generously sprinkle on the cotija and the cayenne pepper to taste. Top with cilantro and serve with a wedge of lime.

Elote

Cajun Corn on the Cob
This Cajun corn relies heavily on a strong spice mix – the Cajun trifecta of powdered garlic, powdered onion, and paprika. Of course, some cayenne, oregano, thyme, and fresh cracked pepper are thrown in for good measure. You can easily sub this with a store bought blend (like Emeril’s Essence or McCormick’s Cajun) and it would work just fine.

Ingredients
4 ears of corn, grilled
2 tbs butter, very soft
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano or dried thyme or both (both is obviously better)
tiny dash of cumin
1/2 tsp freshly cracked pepper

Directions
Combine butter with all the spices. Use a brush and spread over the hot ears of corn. Alternatively, to get those cajun flavors deep into the corn, go ahead and spread the butter spice mixture over RAW ears of husked corn. Wrap in tin foil, then cook over the same charcoal grill until kernels are cooked through. As the kernels cook, they will absorb the salt and those spices, so you’ll feel the tingly all the way through the juicy cob.

Vietnamese Corn on the Cob
In Viet Nam, grilled corn is served by street vendors who serve out of a little stall or those yoke baskets surreptitiously suspended on the shoulders of stooped Vietnamese women. I take a bit of poetic license with this recipe, as it incorporates some of the elements found in that street food but with a twist.

Ingredients
4 ears of corn, grilled
2 tbs vegetable oil
1 tbs butter
3-4 sprigs of green onion, green and whites thinly sliced
2 tbs crispy fried shallots, store bought or homemade

Directions
In a heat proof bowl, place vegetable oil, butter and thinly sliced green onion. Heat in microwave on high heat for about a minute or until the onion is fragrant and wilted, but still green. Do not over heat as the onion will brown. Slather this scallion-oil mixture over each hot ear of corn, then top of sweet crispy shallots. The shallots give this texture and sweetness, while the oniony scallions give a bit of bite and richness.

Corn

If you can’t find crispy fried shallots at your local grocery store, you can home make them by simply deep frying the shallots twice. The first fry will be a low/slow heat at around 300*F for about 8 minutes to achieve a golden brown color. Place on a towel lined plate to drain. The second fry will be a quick/hot heat at about 375*F for no more than a few seconds to achieve that crisp texture. Enjoy.

I feel that my summer truly has been guided by the hand of God (no soccer/World Cup reference intended) – it’s been just too blessed, too fortunate, too perfect. Is this even real? Feels like a dream. I hope your summer has been going well so far – hopefully blessed in sunshine, kissed by the sea, and covered in the juices of summer’s ripest harvest. Until soon readers,
AnhD





Late Afternoons Lately

18 05 2014

The last few days have been surprisingly blissful. New job, picking up old hobbies, more blogging, more cooking, more introspection time, more downtime to do things for myself. For the first time in a loong time, I don’t feel trapped or stressed or pressured. There’s definitely a bounce in my step. My lunches for the past few days haven’t been huddled over my laptop in a dark cube somewhere – instead, I get to walk out to the Embarcadero and soak in all that lovely vitamin D. And just as my favorite time of the day hits – those gorgeous golden late afternoons – I grab a cold cup of iced Blue Bottle coffee from the Ferry Building. Oh those beautiful late afternoons.

Last weekend was Mother’s Day, and I spent the late afternoon arranging these lovely things with the help and direction of my friends at VFD. I’d like to think that I am improving, take a look:

Collage

Yesterday in the late afternoon, my sister convinced (manipulated) me to make poke for dinner. Refreshing and perfect for these balmy nights – not to mention NOT much work at all! As long as you have good fish, there is no need for much work – just a light touch will do. A touch of soy sauce, a bit of sesame, a bit of creamy avocado. If you want to get really fancy, maybe a bit of Sriracha mayo or a bit of crunch from some crush macadamia nuts. The variations are really endless, so here’s a basic recipe for you to start with -

Ahi Poke
Ingredients
1 lb sushi grade ahi tuna, small cubes
1/2 c light soy sauce
3-4 stalks green onion
1/2 small Maui onion, small dice
2-3 tbs sesame oil
2 tbs toasted sesame (black or white)
2-3 tbs wasabi
1 sheet of nori, cut into thin strips
2 avocados, small dice

Directions
In a large bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients – soy sauce, sesame oil, wasabi. Fold the ahi tuna and avocado into the wet ingredients and coat with the sauce. Throw in the onion, green onion, toasted sesame seeds, then top with the thinly shredded nori. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Ahi

Salmon Poke
Ingredients
1 lb sushi grade salmon, small cubes
1/4 c mayonnaise
2-3 tbs Sriracha
2-3 tbs light soy sauce
1/2 small Maui onion, small dice
3-4 stalks green onion
1 sheet of nori, cut into thin strips
2 avocados, small diced
2 tbs toasted sesame (black or white)
drizzle of sesame oil

Directions
In a large bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients – mayonnaise, Sriracha, and soy sauce. Fold the salmon and avocado into the wet ingredients and coat with the sauce. Throw in and mix together the remaining ingredients. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Salmon

I served these 2 versions of poke with sushi rice and teriyaki fish and a bit of seaweed salad. It makes for a gloriously simple meal and oh-so-satisfying.

Rice

How have you been spending your late afternoons? Everything is hit with that warm saturation and glows golden under the sunlight. Any who,, I hope this spell of bliss lasts a bit longer and I get to keep at my favorite hobbies. Until soon!

AnhD








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