Tag Archives: cooking

I was rifling through the fridge

30 Sep

It’s the first night in a while I’ve had time to mess around in the kitchen, but the fridge held nothing particularly inspiring–that is until I saw a little wedge of sharp white cheddar leftover from a splendid macaroni and cheese I made last week. My eyes darted to the leftover third of italian crusty bread. Those two things alone would have sufficed to satisfy my craving, but I peeked into the fridge and saw an untouched pound of applewood bacon. I threw open the produce drawer and smiled when I saw avocados. And there you have it: the makings of the ultimate grilled cheese.

It’s more like a bacon, avocado and cheese sandwich, I know, but the grilled cheese part was what I came to crave most. The bacon and avocado, normally the stars of the show, became accessories to a glorious crime. A crime because it, as my roommate pointed out, is three layers of fat (bacon, fatty, avocado, fat, cheese, fatty), not counting the butter to crisp the bread. But it’s exactly what my tummy wanted, and I just can’t say no to her sometimes, not when my heart is in it too.

And this is how I went about it:

Ingredients

butter

a half narrow loaf of italian bread or any crusty bread

2 thick sliced of sharp white cheddar cheese

2 slices of thick applewood bacon

1 avocado, halved and sliced

salt and pepper

Instructions

Lightly butter a pan that is set to medium heat. Slice the loaf in half vertically and then each half horizontally. Put them in the pan and crisp the insides of the bread, around a minute.

Flip them over and add a slice of cheese to each “bottom” slice of bread. After heating two or three minutes, put the cheesy bread under the broiler for five minutes or until the cheese is completely melted.

Cook the bacon in the same pan, two minutes for each side of the bacon. Dry with paper towels and cut each slice in half.

Set the cheesy bread on a plate, add four slices of bacon and then half the avocado. Salt and pepper the avocado. Add the top piece of bread, and there you have it!

A sandwich is no joke

28 Sep

In my professional kitchen months, I prepared sandwiches and salads which, believe it or not, takes a fair amount of cooking. Prep is a bitch– you spend the whole morning scrambling around to get everything into place on time (which is so much harder than I have energy to describe) and have back ups just in case you run out. The bacon has to be a perfect crispy dark pink and brown, the chicken breasts need to be marinated and never overcooked, the cheese and veggies sliced at exact widths. You can’t prep too much or you’ll be wasteful. You can’t prep too little or you’ll scramble during the day. It’s the ultimate balancing act, and it takes a lot of thinking. Not only is it physically exhausting, cooking in a professional kitchen is mentally draining. And I wasn’t even “doing the hard stuff”. The salad is tossed with the most delicate care to not crush the leaves, arranged so that it has a full, bountiful appeal, and dressed like you would be putting on a summer skirt and not a ridiculous ball gown, in other words, dress it lightly or your salad drowns.

So I learned how to not burn bacon (I’ve had such horrible nightmares about this, waking up in cold sweats for a week), check for doneness of chicken breasts by touch, built up really strange muscles for slicing cheese and vegetable on the deli slicer, learned how much to pinch to get a teaspoon of salt, how you DO NOT salt the water in order to make it boil faster (that is a lie) but how you DO salt the water generously for boiling pasta and blanching the green stuff. I also learned the secrets of how to make a perfect omelette, which I will definitely post about. I learned to secure a cutting board with a wet towel, how best to “peel” and slice an avocado, what arugula is and why it shouldn’t be peppered, how to make perfect grill marks on sourdough bread, how to slice loaves as big as a large man’s thigh, and how to not make a horrendous mess in the kitchen while cooking. I still have to get better at that, my roommate can vouch for that…

Now, I go to a place called Intermezzo to get my sandwich and salad fix. Their “veggie delight” is the most colossal mound of lettuce, beans, sprouts and avocado you’ll ever encounter in one sitting. My personal favorite combination is the sandwich/salad combo– chicken salad and their tossed green topped with tomatoes, croutons, carrots and other fun stuff. Their chicken salad has apples and pecans in it, and on the crunchy, chewy ciabatta bread, it’s just scrumptious. To top it off they serve it with a slice of pineapple– a perfect, refreshingly sweet note to end a most magnificent lunch.

Comfort Foods Part 1

28 Apr

The rain clouds crept up suddenly and dumped their buckets of sad water on the city and bad news on my head. Walking to the bus was a drag without an umbrella and without a hand to hold. My only thoughts involved getting to my apartment to eat and catching my flight to Los Angeles to be with my family. As difficult as the visit home will be in light of recent news-dumps, I’m going to take this week as an opportunity to write about my comfort foods, many of which are Korean dishes and my mother’s original recipes.

I was starving when I got to my apartment and was in a sleepy stumble to sort clothes, pack, clean my room, and eat. Those were the goals, and I scrambled through the chores but chose to slow down for the last task. There seemed to be nothing inspiring in the fridge– that was until I saw a half onion, the nearly full egg carton, and the pounds of tomatoes sitting in the veggie drawer.

This is technically one of my good friend’s comfort foods, but when we lived together and it was her turn to cook for the apartment, the other girls and I rubbed our tummies and sighed happily when fed tomato and eggs. Tomato and eggs meant sitting around the dinner table in our apartment, and after eating silently with focus and resolve, gossiping, laughing and poking fun at each other. Tomato and eggs is a very simple scramble with soupy tomatoes and Chinese flavors, and when served over rice, that bowl, hot from the stovetop and warm with happy shades of red and yellow, was all that mattered. It was food to be savored and to go back for seconds and thirds, but the best thing is that it is dangerously simple and easy to make.

Despite that fact, I had never attempted to make them for fear of falling short and ending up feeling unsatisfied and sadly nostalgic. I had the courage to try that day, and although I was right in that it didn’t turn out quite like my friend’s version, I was content. The tomatoes were soft but not as soupy, the eggs flavorful, and a pinch of red pepper flakes provided an exciting kick.

So here is my take on this wonderful comfort food.

Tomato and Eggs

Ingredients
A bit of vegetable oil
half of a small onion, chopped
a pinch of red pepper flakes
4 eggs
1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
A dash of salt
2 tomato, chopped
A pinch of sugar
3-4 tablespoons of chicken broth
Short grain rice for serving

Instructions
Add the oil to the pan on medium heat. When the pan is hot, ad
d the chopped onion and red pepper flakes and sauté until onions are soft, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, add the Chinese rice wine, sesame oil and salt to the eggs and beat them. Add the eggs to the onions and stir to make the scramble. When the eggs are cooked, remove them from the pan onto a plate. Add the chopped tomato followed by the chicken broth and sugar. Stir occasionally until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs back to the pan and mix everything together for a minute. Serve over sticky Asian rice, and enjoy.

Serves two.



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