Friday, January 18, 2013

Happiness is...Egg Foo Young

Egg Foo Young at Ballard Mandarin
Egg Foo Young has got to be my favorite American Chinese dish.

What's not like?  Eggs? Vegetables? Sauce? It's a triumvirate of tastiness! 

In fact, I had it for Christmas dinner at Ballard Mandarin Restaurant, and was never more happy.

Another fact, it was well worth the 45 minute wait where they kept bringing us platters of Egg Foo Young and right before we could dig in the platter would be pulled away because our teeny-tiny waiter kept giving food to the wrong tables, but that's another story...

Fact three, my two favorite Chinese Restaurant Lounges have Egg Foo Young on the Bar Menu and super cheap Happy Hour drink prices.

Egg Foo Young at Louie's Cuisine of China
Louie's Cuisine of China, in Ballard, has a lounge where you step over the threshold and *poof* you are transported right smack dab in the 1970's. Rattan furniture, stone fireplace, mirrored wall, disco floor...

But, it's the Egg Foo Young (and cheap drinks) that keeps me coming back.

They deep fry it here, so it's golden and crispy
on the outside and souffle like on the inside.

The traditional brown sauce is thick but not heavy, and not too salty.

Shrimps Egg Foo Young at Peking House
Peking House Restaurant, in Shoreline, is a great place to go for a drink after work (especially since it is 5 minutes from work).

The lounge is large and worn in, but the bartender pours a stiff drink and the Shrimps Egg Foo Young is always good.

Loaded with big shrimps and crispy vegetables, this egg pancake is large enough for 2-3 people to share, and I like that they serve the sesame infused sauce on the side.

All that said, my only gripe with Egg Foo Young in general is that it is only ever served Family Style.

So, if you are a single and want Egg Foo Young you must be prepared to eat a lot of Egg Foo Young! I'm pretty certain that eating 6-8 eggs in one sitting is not going to be good for you.

Truth be told I had never made Egg Foo Young at home. For some reason I always assume anything Chinese is going to be difficult to make, and it's just best to get it in a restaurant.

But Egg Foo Young is just and omelette! A stinking veggie or meat omelette!

Now that I have figured this out I am equipped to make my favorite dish all the time, and it is just as good as any restaurant could make. Well, except for the deep fried version at Louie's. I haven't figured that one out yet...

Egg Foo Young for 1

For the Omelette:
1 T. Vegetable Oil, for frying
1/2 c. Fried Tofu, in julienned strips*
1/4 c. Bean Sprouts**
1/4 c. Celery, diced small
1/4 c. Yellow Onion, thinly sliced
Pinch of Kosher Salt
2-3 Eggs, scrambled (hungry or really hungry)

In a small bowl, mix together the Fried Tofu, Bean Sprouts, Celery, Yellow Onion, and Kosher Salt.

Stir the scrambled Eggs into the vegetable mixture and set aside.

For the Sauce:
1/4 c. Chicken Broth ~or~ Vegetable Broth
1 1/2 t. Soy Sauce
1/2 t. Cornstarch
1 1/2 t. Water
1/2 t. toasted Sesame Oil
Small Pinch of Cayenne Pepper

In a small cup combine the Chicken Broth and Soy Sauce together; set aside.

Place the Cornstarch and Water in a small cup; stir to combine and set aside.

Have at the ready the Sesame Oil and Cayenne Pepper.

Heat Vegetable Oil in a small non-stick skillet over med-high heat.

Add the Vegetable/Egg mixture to the hot pan; reduce heat a little, stir briefly then let cook for 3 minutes, so that the eggs start to set and get golden brown. Flip omelette over and cook for another 2 minutes until eggs are cook to your liking. Transfer to a plate.

Add the Chicken Broth/Soy Sauce mix directly into the hot skillet and bring to a boil. Slowly add in the Cornstarch/Water slurry (you will need to re`stir before adding), stirring constantly until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat. Stir in the Sesame Oil and Cayenne Pepper and pour directly over the waiting omelette. EAT!

*You could also use diced Ham, BBQ Pork, shredded Chicken, cooked Shrimps, or cooked ground Pork. I just needed to use up some Tofu...

**You have tons of options for veggie add~ins! Green Onions, Bamboo Shoots, Mushrooms, and shredded Carrots are all delicious. Peas! Peas would be good in this...

So easy! The eggs are fluffy and the veggies remain crispy.  A light and savory meal I no longer have to go out to a Chinese Restaurant to get.

I bet bacon would be good...

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Happiness is...Banh Mi Pizza

One of my favorite things in the whole world is a Banh Mi Sandwich. That wonderful Vietnamese baguette filled with lovely things like Roasted Pork, Fried Tofu, Liver Pate, Pickled Daikon, flavorful sauces, and liberally topped with fresh herbs like Cilanto, Mint, and Basil.  So Light.  So Fresh.  So Yummy.

Well, yesterday at work we were taste testing some Banh Mi Sandwiches.  They. Were. Terrible.  Too much sauce.  Indistinguishable meat.  Just because you throw some pickled carrot and fresh cilantro on a roll (which was awesome), that doesn't make it a Banh Mi.  So Disappointed.

Now all I want is a good Banh Mi Sandwich!

But unfortunately I had a ton of leftovers at home and so I forced myself to be good and eat at home.

But it got me thinking...

1. About how good a Banh Mi Sandwich would be.

2. Could I make one at home?

3. What variations of Banh Mi are there?

I realized, I really don't want to make Banh Mi at home.  I enjoy going out to discover new spots to enjoy this delicious paper wrapped sandwich.  You could call it a hobby...

Pizza! I love making pizza at home, and how good would a Banh Mi one be? Awesome, me thinks!

Here's what I came up with:

Banh Mi Pizza

1 1 lb. frozen Pizza Dough Ball ~or~ your favorite Pizza Crust of choice
1/4 c. Sriracha Mayonnaise
1/2 lb. Fried Tofu, sliced (you could use sliced Chicken, Beef, or Pork, whatever...)
1 c. quick pickled shredded Carrots (White Vinegar, Sugar, Soy Sauce)
1/2 c. pickled Daikon Radish, julienned
1-2 fresh Jalapenos, sliced
1/4 c. Peanut Sauce
1/2-1 c. Fresh Herbs (I used a mix of Thai Basil, Mint, and Cilantro)

Preheat Oven to 425˚

Stretch ~or~ roll out your Pizza Dough on a baking sheet.

I always turn my baking sheet upside-down because it makes it easier to slide off later.

You could spread a little cornmeal on the pan if you are afraid of sticking. My pan is well seasoned...

Spread the Sriracha Mayonnaise over the crust, like you would pizza sauce.

Sriracha Mayonnaise:
 1/4 c. Mayonnaise ~or~ Veganaise
 1-3 T. Sriracha Sauce*, to taste

Place both ingredients in a small bowl and combine well.

*I like the one with the Rooster on the package.

Top the pizza with sliced Fried Tofu, pickled Carrots & Daikon, and sliced Jalapeño.

I only added 1 sliced jalapeño, but add as much as you can handle.

This was the first time I used a store bought pickled Daikon, and though it was good, I think next time I would quick pickle some fresh daikon, like I did the carrots.

I do like how colorful this pizza looks right now.

Drizzle a scant 1/4 c. of Peanut Sauce over the top of the pizza. 

Peanut Sauce:
1/2 c. creamy Peanut Butter
1 T. fresh Lime Juice
1 T. Soy Sauce
1 T. Sugar
2 t. Sriracha Sauce
1/2 t. fresh Garlic, minced
1/2 t. toasted Sesame Oil
1/4 c. Hot Water

Place all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.
Whisk well until combined and smooth.
Add more water, a teaspoon at a time, if too thick.

Makes 3/4-1 cup sauce

Place the pizza in the  preheated oven for 17-20 minutes, until the crust is crispy and golden brown.

Let the pizza cool a few minutes before topping with the Fresh Herbs.

I don't even chop the herbs up, I just pick them off the stems. Except for the cilantro, the stems are tender and delicious.

I love this pizza, it's light and flavorful, and I can't wait to make it again.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Happiness is...Ramps!


Love these oniony/garlicky pungent wild leeks.

Hate that they cost $13 a pound!

Love that ramps are a fleeting spring vegetable that I may only get one taste of a year.  Makes them more special.

Hate cooking ramps in my house because they make everything reek. My hair smells of ramps for a week if I cook them at home. I usually go out to eat them for that reason.

Love that you can eats ramps from leaves to bulb. The green leaves are mild, the stems are sweet and peppery, and the white bulb is pungent and spicy...

Mostly you find ramps in dishes including pasta, bacon, eggs, and on pizza.

I'm seeing a lot of recipes around for pickled ramps and even pestos utilizing ramps.

I however am a purist, and I most enjoy ramps raw. Tossed them on a salad or slice them thin and toss 'em into a bowl of plain white rice and I'm a happy girl.

Right now, as I'm writing this, I am devouring my yearly allotment of ramps, and I'm peeing myself because they are so delicious.

First I washed off all of the dirt, these ramps were the filthiest I've ever come across.

Next I trimmed off the hairy roots and sliced them thin, from tip to tip.  Ahhh, I'm just getting a hint of a garlicky scent off my cutting board.

I tossed the sliced ramps up in a bowl.

I took out some organic whole wheat sourdough bread...

slathered it with some Irish butter and placed a heaping spoonful
of the ramps on top and sprinkled on a little coarse salt.

Oh My, Heavenly!

So simple. So pure.

So what, I won't be able to leave the house for the next few days
without turning heads at my ramps breath...

I don't care.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Happiness is...My Pet Pumpkin

Every year, for the last 20+ years, I have had a Pet Pumpkin.  Not a pumpkin for carving or eating (well on occasion I have eaten my pumpkin in the end...mmm roasted pumpkin), but a special pumpkin that I will sometimes carry around, take on a trip, put next to my bed, or set on my desk to keep me company...a pet pumpkin.

As soon as I see the pumpkins come out at the grocery store I start to get excited.  I love pumpkin time! I can't wait to pick out the right pumpkin.  Some times I see it right away and other times I've had to sort through huge piles of pumpkins looking for just the right one.  Over the years I've had huge orange carving pumpkins, petite sugar pie pumpkins, lovely white ghost pumpkins, elegant crimson pumpkins, pretty green ones, smooth ones, warty ones, and striped ones.

This tradition started back when I was in college and a friend and I adopted a great big orange carving pumpkin, in October of 1990. We took turns caring for it, taking it to class, out for dinner at The 4B's, it went with us to parties, and even to movies.  One day, in the middle of winter, our beloved Pet Pumpkin developed a a soft spot and toppled out the window where it landed on a ledge a story below and by evening was completely buried in snow.  When the snow thawed that spring, all that was left of our pet was a dark orangey-brown mound of shell that eventually molded over and flaked away in the wind, leaving a permanent black mark that we would check on from time to time.

Now, every year, I get a new pet pumpkin, but none have ever been as special as the sweet little sugar pie pumpkin I got in 2003.  I left my pet pumpkin in the office of the meat shop, where I was working at the time, and when I returned the next morning...

This is Barnes.
I found that magically (or at the hands of some silly sausage making boys) my pumpkin had been transformed into Barnes!

She was the Best Pet Pumpkin a Girl could ever hope to have!

We went to bars (she got me a lot of free drinks!) and parties and ski trips.  Barnes and I went to work together, went on road trips, and met tons of new people. 

She was a fun girl and I think of her fondly every year as the pumpkins are brought out and placed in piles...

Barnes getting candy from my friend Ludmilla

Barnes in her Autumn Finest.

Barnes dressed as a Witch for Halloween.

Barnes out with friends.

Barnes and her Mom.

Barnes with her 3 Aunts.

Barnes with her Brothers and Sisters.

Barnes with her Cousins.

Barnes with her friend Glitch.

Barnes bundled up for a snow day.

Barnes at work on Christmas Day.

Barnes was a Party Pumpkin.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Happiness is...Figs

Figs always remind me of playing hide and seek.  The neighborhood where my Grandparents lived, in California, was full of fig trees, and when I was young I would play hide and seek with the neighbor kids.

We would jumping over wooden fences into garden beds covered with fallen fruit that would squish between my toes and stick to my hands and knees as I crouched under low hanging branches to hide from the one who was "It".

A sticky sweet mess, my grandfather would spray me off with the hose and I would dry off laying on the grass staring up at the sky looking at cloud pictures.

I don't really remember eating figs as kid in any other form than picked straight from the tree and gobbled up.  No one made fig jam, or put them in salads, or used them in baked goods.
 Growing up in Montana the only way to get a fig was in "Newton" form, so I have never really paid any mind to them (though I do love a "Fig Newton" from time to time).

Figs recently came back into my life, in dried form, when a friend suggested I use them as a pizza topping (really good).  Usually figs are out of my price range.  They can be very spendy, and since I never quite know what to do with them, I don't buy them. But this year, during the peak of fig deliciousness, I came across a great deal and decided I could afford a little figgy indulgence.

I procured two varieties, the Brown Turkey and the Black Mission.  I made a small batch of Fresh Fig Spread with Honey, for making Fig Bars at a later date, and the rest I stuffed with Goat Cheese, wrapped in Prosciutto and oven roasted.  I had never tried this preparation before but I am now in love with figs this way.  Plus it's super easy to make!

First, wash, dry and inspect all of the Figs you will be using.
Make sure there are no bruises and that they are not over-ripe.
You only want the delicious ones.

Assemble all the ingredients;
delicious Figs, Goat Chevre, and Prosciutto
(I used a scrummy Parma Ham).

Depending on the width of you Prosciutto you may
wish to cut the slices in half or even thirds.
The slices should be as wide and the height of the Figs.

Slice off the stem. Make a cut from the top of the Fig
through to the blossom end, but only cut halfway through.
You are making a pouch for the cheese.

Take a pinch of Goat Chevre, a little larger than a raisin,
and stuff it inside of the Fig.  Try to close the Fig
around the Cheese a best you can.

Wrap each Cheese stuffed Fig in a piece of 
Prosciutto.  Like a little hammy blanket.

Place the Prosciutto wrapped Figs on a parchment lined
baking sheet, leaving about an inch of space between each Fig.

Bake in a 450˚ F oven for 8-10 minutes, until the Figs are
bubbly, the Cheese is fluffy and the Prosciutto is crispy.

Enjoy hot or at room temperature.

*Let the Figs cool for a few minutes before nomming because the
cheese will be crazy hot.

These Figs make great appetizers for parties, are tasty thrown on a
salad, and make a delicious anytime snack. Loves!

For a little added loveliness drizzle the warm Figs with a 
bit of golden honey or syrupy balsamic vinegar. *slurp*

Baked Goat Chevre Stuffed Figs Wrapped in Prosciutto

12 fresh Mission Figs
12 fresh Brown Turkey Figs
8 oz. Goat Chevre
12 slices Parma Prosciutto (more if slices are small)

Preheat oven to 450ºF.

Wash, dry, and inspect your Figs.

Slice your Prosciutto in half.

Cut each Fig halfway down the center lengthwise; you want the Fig to remain whole.

Stuff a plump raisin size piece of Goat Chevre into the slit of each Fig.

Wrap each Fig with Prosciutto and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake the Figs until heated through and Prosciutto is crispy, about 8-10 minutes.

Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, and enjoy.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Happiness is...Blue Cheese Caramel Sauce


The goldenrod is yellow;
The corn is turning brown;
The trees in apple orchards
With fruit are bending down.

The gentian's bluest fringes
Are curling in the sun;
In dusky pods the milkweed
Its hidden silk has spun.

The sedges flaunt their harvest
In every meadow-nook;
And asters by the brookside
Make asters in the brook.

From dewy lanes at morning
The grapes' sweet odors rise;
At noon the roads all flutter
With yellow butterflies.

By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer's best of weather,
And autumn's best of cheer.

by Helen Hunt Jackson 

I can't deny that I have been enjoying this late Summer/early Autumn weather.  Though the days are clearly getting shorter, we have had clear sunny skies and mild, warm evenings with wonderful briny breezes.  Lovely weather.

Call me crazy, but I've even been enjoying the humidity.  We don't often get hot and humid here in the coastal northwest.  Sticky heat gives me a good excuse to take a mid-day icy cold shower, which I almost never get to do. 

The trees are beginning to change colors, from dark green to gold and amber.  There are pumpkins in the market, and I am often dreaming of soup and sweaters and mufflers and long walks on crisp, smoke tinged nights.  I love Autumn, it's my absolute favorite time of year.

Another reason I love Fall is Apples.  I only eat apples in the Fall, because it is the only time they are any good.  I plan on making Apple Pie, Apple Butter, Mulligatawny Soup, and grilled Apple & Smoked Cheddar sandwiches.  An Autumn Apple Feast!

I picked up 3 delicious looking Honeycrisp Apples at the market the other day.  I planned on making Caramel Apples, but decided I would make a Caramel Dip instead (much easier on the teeth).

When I bought the apples they were sampling them out with Blue Cheese and it was a brilliant combination.  I kept thinking about how good the apple and the cheese go together, so today when I got in the kitchen to make my Caramel Apple Dip I decided I would add Blue Cheese to my sauce.  Why not?  I've had Blue Cheese and Honey before, and how different are honey and caramel anyways?

So good!  I kept wanting to taste it again and again. Sweet, creamy, salty, Blue Cheesy, and delicious with my Honeycrisp Apple slices.  

I can't wait to share this sauce with everyone I know.  I just know it would be scrummy over vanilla ice cream or drizzled over a slice of apple pie.

Blue Cheese Caramel Sauce

25 individually wrapped Caramels, about 1 cups worth
1/4 cup Heavy Cream
1/4 cup Blue Cheese, I used Salemville Amish Gorgonzola

Place the Caramels and Heavy Cream in a small heavy bottomed saucepan, over medium heat.

Stir constantly, until the Caramels have melted completely and the sauce has thickened.

Lower the heat and stir in the Blue Cheese; blend until cheese is completely incorporated into the sauce.

Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Transfer sauce to a jar or bowl; do not cover until completely cooled.

Enjoy warm, room temperature, or chilled with apple slices, pears, pie, ice cream, or anything else you can think to dip or drizzle it on.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Happiness is...a Paper Hat

Today is Make A Hat Day, so of course I had to make a hat, because I love hats!  Big hats, small hats, berets, cowboy, I wear and love them all.

So, some big decisions to make. What should I make my hat out of?
Felt?  Fleece?  Tissue?  I think Paper.  I have lots of newspaper around due to my obsession with doing the daily crossword puzzle...

What type of hat should I make?
Pirate?  Porkpie?  Fascinator? I do have tons of big feathers in my closet...I collect too much crap.  But then again my 'crap' comes in handy for a day like today.

Well here it is, after about an hour of folding and shaping and taping...
My Newspaper Cloche Hat:

 I made my little hat out of newspaper, black electrical tape, a piece of
white grosgrain ribbon, and a bunch of pink silk hydrangea.

 I think is looks really sweet from the side.

I'll definitely be wearing my hat today!