Archive for ‘Food’

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

chicken and rice soup

Here’s a favorite one pot meal I make all the time, Chicken Rice Soup and in Lao we call it “kao peaak” which translates to “wet rice.” So easy and it requires a few ingredients, nothing canned or crazy.

When you have left over cooked rice, in my case always some kind of white jasmine rice or brown rice, dump the rice in a large pot and add water to cover and then some, bring to a boil and turn the heat down to a low simmer. Then slice up 1-2 ribs of celery, stalks and leaves and slice 2 thumb-size pieces of ginger, add both items to the pot. Shred up some chicken from a roasted chicken you may have left over from the night before, if not chicken you can use boiled down pork ribs, the pork meat should be falling off the bone kind of tender. I usually buy an organic roasted chicken from Whole Foods, it’s a good deal as an uncooked organic whole bird costs the same as an already roasted organic bird, makes things real easy. Add the shredded chicken pieces to the pot and cook down, if you think the soup is too thick add some more water, season to taste with a few splashes of fish sauce and salt and pepper too. If you don’t have fish sauce around, just use more salt. Cook it down ’til the rice is very soft. Spoon the soup in a large bowl, top with sliced green onions and cilantro and a tablespoon of fried garlic or shallots in oil. I like to squeeze a wedge of fresh lime into the soup and sprinkle a bit of dry roasted thai chili flakes to taste. You can also season the soup with soy sauce too. For breakfast, lunch or dinner it works.



Saturday, March 16, 2013

kale chips, pickles, kimchi

I never thought too many organic vegetables could be a problem, it isn’t really and shouldn’t ever be but it’s kind of gotten out of hand lately. Our efforts to juice and munch through the CSA‘s weekly produce delivery as well as my neighbors sharing their extra veggies with us and we’ve barely put a dent in the fridge. Serious measures taken and I’ve had to put the CSA delivery on vacation hold, putting some serious time in the kitchen now to use up all the produce. Gonna preserve as much as I can cause there’s no way we’re eating everything before it goes bad. I about a non-problem, this is it.

Started with making kale chips as CSA’s love growing kale! I’m a big salt and vinegar fan so my favorite so far is olive oil, salt and vinegar. Toss everything and massage the kale before dehydrating.


I pickled organic Persian cucumbers, daikon and carrots. Normally I don’t do sweet pickles but I did this time for steamed buns and Vietnamese sandwiches. I used Momofoku‘s David Chang’s master pickle recipe, easy enough: 1cup hot water, 1/2c rice wine vinegar, 6Tbsp sugar, 2/14tsp kosher salt.


So many heads of organic cabbage too and I made kimchi. This time I mixed Momofuku’s recipe and David Liebovitz‘s recipe, it works. Korean pickles are kick ass, definitely flavor with a punch. Mostly eaten as a side dish with rice or put kimchi in soup broth to zing things up..uuumamiii.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Lao sukiyaki

Chilly winter nights and a fridge full of winter greens and I knew I’d be making sukiyaki for dinner soon. It’s my cold season Asian comfort food. Japanese have sukiyaki and nabe, Chinese have their hotpots and Thai and Laotions have our very own version of sukiyaki too, whatever the origins they all involve veggies, some kind of protein and clear noodles too in a hot simmering broth.

I had a bunch of organic savoy napa cabbage, red mustard frill, rainbow chard and spinach in my CSA box this week, so many greens and I immediately thought of this dish I grew up eating. Watercress is also a good one. Wash them up and cut them into a little larger than bite size pieces. Also did the same with a bit of green onion. Set everything aside. Then devein your shrimp and clean and cut your squid pieces, I had tiny lobster tails around too so I used those as well, pretty much any kind of thinly sliced protein or seafood works. Lay on a plate and set aside. Prepare the clear noodles, if using dry mung bean noodles, let them soak in warm water for at least 15min, if using kelp noodles or yam noodles, just right out of the bag is fine.

In a crock pot bring some vegetable/light chicken broth or dashi to a boil, add a splash of coconut water, season to taste with sea salt or fish sauce. Turn down to simmer and toss in the veggies and seafood (protein) and clear noodles. You could also poach an egg into the broth too and when everything is cooked, scoop it up from the broth and place in a large bowl, top your bowl off with a few ladles of the steaming broth too. Add a squeeze of fresh lime juice, 2-3 heaping spoons of the sukiyaki sauce and chili flakes to taste. Be sure to have a bowl of the sauce on the side as you will want to dip your veggies and seafood in the sauce so that every bite is really flavorful.



The Lao version sukiyaki I grew up eating is hands down my favorite version. The sauce we mix into the steaming hot broth is sweet and fragrant with cooked down shallots and minced garlic. It’s made from Chinese fermented tofu in some kind of red sauce, we call it “tofu yee,” it’s the key ingredient to our sukiyaki sauce, that combined with some ground roasted peanuts creates a very different flavor from anything you’ve ever tasted

My friend, Nick shared his recipe for a Lao sukiyaki sauce that I love.

1. In a sauce pan heat some coconut oil on medium to low heat, add 4 sliced shallots, a head of garlic minced, 1/2 c of sugar, til light golden brown.


2. Add the tofu from 1 bottle of tofu yee (I prefer to quickly rinse the red sauce off of the pieces of tofu). Then add a few spoonfuls of tamarind pulp and ground roasted peanuts to the oil and a handful of white sesame seeds and mix everything together, stirring on low heat until the sauce incorporates smoothly and thickens a bit, about 20min. Add some soy sauce to taste. Let the sauce cool down and then spoon the sauce into glass jars with a tight lid, don’t fill completely to the top as you will be freezing the sauce. This recipe will make more sauce than you’ll need in one sitting, there’ll be enough to last you awhile so freeze what you don’t use right away, it keeps for many, many months.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Native Foods Cafe in Encinitas

It seems like forever we’ve been waiting for this cafe to open, YES! Native Foods Cafe making some power moves down the coast and how lucky are we they picked Encinitas to open up shop. It’s well known that we do live in the yoga capital of the world so this is the perfect location for this popular chain of restaurants. The menu says they are America’s premier fast-casual vegan restaurant group serving made-from-scratch, chef-crafted cuisine to thousands of food lovers.” That said I guarantee you this place will be a regular haunt for us especially as my other half mainly follows a vegan diet with the occasional fresh fish meal for variety. And being that I’m not one to pass up on a delicious vegan meal I’d say I partake at least 75% of the time to his culinary choices and with Native Foods in the ‘hood now it just makes it easy. Check it, you’ll be enriched by the experience knowing you nourished your body with really good grub, there are gluten free options too.

We had the bistro steak sandwich which was really good, lightly fried crispy shallots over arugula and roasted tomatoes with thinly sliced Native seitan steak on a perfectly toasted bun.

And the Azteca salad was a great choice too, currants and quinoa mixed in with a salad tossed in a mango lime vinaigrette.


Of course I took dessert home for later. My favorite being the homemade apple pie, a buttery vegan crust with a light cinnamon creme was perfect. The peanut butter parfait was creamy with a bit of tang to it, I think next time I’ll pass on it though and just get myself a pack of Newman’s Own dark chocolate peanut butter cups, hands down peanut butter paired with dark chocolate is just kinda hard to beat.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Chinese 5 spice roast chicken

On my recent trip to Costa Rica our friend’s mother, who authors a very clever blog for seniors made us an amazing roast chicken for dinner one night. We were staying at their vacation home on the beach so there was no option of a large pantry of ingredients, let alone spices, making do with what was around and oddly enough she had some Chinese 5 spice to work with, a bottle of honey and some fresh limes from their neighbor, Gary’s backyard. Three simple ingredients, two Costa Rican free range birds and dinner was a hit that night.


My beekeeper neighbor down the road gave me a bottle of honey a few weeks ago and this morning when I opened the cupboard the honey bear was staring right at me so here I am roasting  chicken for lunch today. Trader Joe’s now sells these organic brined birds, of course they do, it’s a good thing, dry birds are history now as the moisture and salt will always keep the meat juicy and the skin crispy.



Chinese 5 Spice Roast Chicken

juice of 1 lime

2 Tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons Chinese 5 spice powder

1 organic chicken

coarse salt and ground white pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 300°. Mix the lime juice, honey and Chinese 5 spice powder in a small bowl. Do not discard the limes after squeezing the juice out of them, instead stuff them in the cavity of the chicken before roasting.

2. Trim any excess fat off of the chicken, especially on the backside, rinse with cold water and pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Season the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper.

3. Place the chicken in a large roasting pan, breast side up with the wings tucked under its back, and tie the legs together to close the cavity. Pour the spice mixture over the chicken and thoroughly spread all over the bird. Roast at 300° for 1 hour covered with parchment paper tinfoil, until both the thigh and the breast read 150° on a meat thermometer.

4. Periodically keep basting the chicken with the juices that settle at the bottom of the roasting pan. Increase the oven temperature to 400°. Return the chicken to the oven uncovered and roast uncovered until crispy and golden brown for 15 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the thigh registers at least 165ºF and the skin is browned. Set aside to rest for 10 minutes.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

pura vida!

Just back from ringing in the new year in Costa Rica at our friend’s beach front home.


Fall asleep listening to waves crashing and wake up to them too.


Beach hop from beautiful black volcanic sand beaches


to pretty white sand beaches all along the coast. Swimming, sunning, surfing, fishing


eating (a delicious lunch at Tree Tops)


and drinks


with this sweet view


full and buzzed and some patrons join the restaurant’s pets for a nap.


Set up hammocks and read books.


There’s howler monkeys,




and buzzards.


Free range animals and ya get pigs running through the yard,


cattle on the roads,


some very bumpy roads and this was no surprise.


Pura Vida!


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

happy holidays from California!

We split and stacked wood for days,

aa 2

aa 3

at the beach


and despite a grey day the sky came through at sunset..showoff

aa 4

We passed on the traditional holiday fare this year and celebrated with good ol’ Chinese food; Peking duck (2 ways), imperial shrimp, salt and pepper squid, chow fun noodles with broccoli and an amazing Chinese coleslaw to offset our greasy spoons.




This salad dressing is perfect for a light coleslaw. It’s one of my favorite winter salads, so simple.

Maple Sesame Vinaigrette (from Gourmande in the Kitchen)

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or unsweetened rice wine vinegar)
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced

To make the salad chop up (chiffonade) a head of savoy cabbage, a bunch of lacinato green kale and shred 2 carrots (I used a mandolin to thinly slice the carrots instead). Mix everything together and when you’re ready to serve toss in the vinaigrette and a large pinch of toasted sesame seeds.

Monday, December 24, 2012


We decided a messy tree hovering close to the house had to leave so we called in the pros, of course the morning of, it rains.


Our earth mover dude was back to dig some drains,



relocate the bamboo


and sculpt the yard too.


Some concrete waterproofing gets done as well.


Then our friendly landscaper neighbor dotted the yard with rescued plants, hint, hint, get planting folks! She’s just as sick as we are of staring at a dirt yard. Three olive trees, blueberries, grasses, yuccas, thanks Paige!


Of course digging holes to plant is not so easy when the dirt thinks its concrete.


Sometime during all this we found ourselves in L.A. having dinner at Mozza which always inspires me to whip up my own pies, so much so I know I went through one too many burrata pints that week.


We also tackled the mandatory ground cover the city insists we must have for drainage issues, grass seed was a temporary no-brainer to pass inspection.



Concrete dudes are back, pouring the concrete patio off of the guest house




and pathways to the front door


and the side door too.


and remarkably this neglected orchid I leave outside all year round comes back every year..who knew?


Sunday, December 2, 2012

PBS love

Turn off the Kardashians, watch something inspiring. Click to watch Inventing David Geffen.

Here’s a preview

and Johnny Carson: King of Late Night

and don’t miss The Mind of a Chef series too.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Turkey Day USA!

Turkey day! always involves a very long day of prepping, snacking and drinking and when you have family all over the world the phone just doesn’t stop ringing too, hours of catching up and all good wishes. There’s always so much to be thankful for and I’m thankful for dear friends and family, good organic food and today what seems like a marathon show of “Punkin Chunkin” on the Science channel. Passionate people building high tech versions of medievil catapults solely to launch pumpkins through the air to ridiculous distances, up to a 1/2 mile and spending at times upwards of $150k on their own dime, geeze we were seriously entertained for hours. As one finalist put it, “it’s great to know you are the best in the world” even if that best is something so incredibly obscure. Happy gobble, gobble day everyone!

And yesterday while picking up my weekly CSA box at the local Whole Foods I came across a shelf of Glutino’s gluten-free corn bread stuffing that they featured for the holidays. Being a sucker for obvious marketing I had to test it out and surprisingly it was good. Also being a bit of a scatter brain this holiday I made a batch of fresh ricotta cheese for a new pumpkin pie recipe I was gonna try. Of course having skimmed through a number of pie recipes I confused two recipes and the witchy kitchen pie recipe I would be making didn’t even call for ricotta, so yeah, there was plenty of snacking on home-made ricotta today, as a dip for carrots, on toast, you name it. And as for the pie it turned out delicious. The filling fell a bit flat though, it wasn’t very thick but it tasted good and it met the main criteria for me, a pumpkin pie filling that did NOT taste egg-y, it had no eggs, problem solved. But of course I was too stuffed to dig in so hence no picture..tommorrow’s dessert.