Monday, July 27, 2009

Figs, Friends, Boston

Cooking for yourself is great and the cost savings is a huge bonus! But beyond this, there is something even more rewarding – cooking for your friends.

When I lived in California my calendar was never short of various dinner parties with friends, night on the town with acquaintances, and weekend meals with the family. Since moving to Boston two months ago however, the calendar has been rather empty. So you can only imagine my excitement when I had made enough friends to host a dinner. Thank you guys for coming together and for all the laughs. Hope you all enjoyed the meal inspired by California's black mission figs.

Now anyone who wants a meal, just come to Boston and I'll make sure you are satisfied.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bell Chili Peppers

Have you ever noticed that the green bell chili peppers are always cheaper than its yellow and red counterparts? I never understood why – maybe because it’s not as sweet?

I had some left over beef after making spaghetti the other night and wasn’t sure what to do with it until I saw the peppers were on sale at the local farmers market. I love anything baked/broiled because it’s healthier for you. This is also a very simple recipe – cook the beef with salt, garlic, mushrooms till its rare, make the couscous, cube the tomatoes, then stuff it in the chili pepper. Broil for 15-20 minutes and dinner is served. Though the portion looks small, it's very filling due to amount of beef and carbs.

Of course I also made strawberry shakes. =).

Oh Scallops

August told me he’s allergic to shellfish and I almost cried. Never before did such words pain my heart in such clenching ways. Can you imagine the horror? I feel so sad for him and anyone else who shares this curse!

Scallops are one of the things in life I enjoy eating most. The white meat is filled with savory juices and the flavors pull me in each time I see them at the market or while eating out a restaurant. They are easy to prepare - seared over the pan with butter with a bit of sweet white wine and a sprinkle of salt and you have dinner under 15 minutes. Here I’ve also wrapped them in bacon and broiled it in the oven for a few minutes – using raw spaghetti to hold. To top it off, balsamic vinegar reduction with a little sugar for faster results.

Oh how I love shellfish.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Beet This

When I first started to cook for myself, grocery shopping was actually one of the most intimidating steps of the meal preparation process. How do you tell what color constitutes ripe and which texture constitutes freshness? While it has become one of my most enjoyable parts outside from eating, I am often challenged each time I shop for a meal. My challenges mainly come from lack of experience and knowledge - not just around matching the right ingredients but as far as what certain ingredients actually are.

Believe it or not, beets were always one of the scarier vegetable to me. They are roots that look dirty at first glance, they have color that stains even your skin, and I never knew what to do with the extra leaves on top. Unlike potatoes or tomatoes, beets are not part of the everyday Vietnamese cuisine and thus were never a part of neither my diet nor knowledge growing up.

In recent years however, beets have become one of my favorite thing to serve at any meals. The plant – to my surprise - is extremely easy to prepare and can be served either hot or cold and does not need much to compliment. Not only is the taste full of flavors – the deep colors of the root allows for great presentation at no expense of extreme creativity.

Easy, good, and pretty and requires only 20 minutes to broil, you can’t beet that!