Apr 9, 2012

Miso-Ginger Salmon

Earlier this afternoon, I was running on the treadmill when a cooking show came on. The hosts included Michael Symon, that guy from What Not to Wear, that crazy (but endearing) chick from Top Chef, and a bunch of other people.

They were making doughnuts. 

And they were hilarious.

I had this stupid grin on my face. Then I started running all lopsided and almost fell off the treadmill. So I slowed it down to a speed-walking pace, and kept marveling at the doughnuts and laughing out loud. 

If you were my gym buddy, you would probably disown me right then and there. Luckily, Mr. Bear can't do that. 

So I ditched the treadmill and came home for some salmon.

What? You thought I was going to make doughnuts? Oh silly, you know I don't do deep-frying around here. 

Plus, I already had 2 nice fat pieces of salmon waiting for me in this marinade:

To simplify what's going on in that bowl, let's call it a miso-ginger sauce. So the end product is called, well, miso-ginger salmon. I kind of borrowed that from Bobby Flay. 

The sauce turned out to be very good with rice or quinoa.

P.s. After doing a little bit of research, I found out that the show is called The Chew

Miso-Ginger Salmon
Recipe adapted from Bobby Flay on the Food Network

2 salmon steaks, 1 1/2 - 2 pounds total
1/4 cup miso paste
1/4 cup mirin
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp minced cilantro stems or green onions
1 1/2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 tsp sesame oil (I used a spicy sesame oil)
2 tsp white sugar 
A little bit of water
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Before applying it to salmon, taste to see if it needs adjustments. Different types of miso paste will affect the final taste of the marinade. Mine turned out very intense and salty, so I added a little more sugar and water to dilute it.
2. Add the marinade to the salmon and let sit in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes (no more than an hour).
3. Preheat oven to 400F. 
4. Bring a skillet to medium heat. Add olive oil to the skillet. Take the salmon steak out of the marinade and shake off excess. Lay the salmon steak flat on the skillet and sear until it is nicely browned, about 1 minute on each side. 
5. Transfer salmon to baking dish. Add all the marinade to the dish, and bake for about 15 minutes or until meat is flaky.  Serve immediately.

Apr 3, 2012

Japanese-style Crispy Pork Chops

I am a huge fan of the Hunger Games books. I can go on and on about why I love them so much. They were crazily irresistible.

But after I finished all 3 books on my Kindle Fire, the Amazon store suggested that I buy this:

Urm, I'm not going to roast some random frog legs and shit in my apartment? And I am not hunting anything, ever?

Seriously people.

(Ok, I know it includes recipes inspired by meals served in The Capitol, but still.)

I don't know about you, but I usually just use something called Google to find recipes. And then I tweak the recipes to my liking.

For example, this was supposed to be a Japanese dish- deep fried pork cutlets. I didn't have bento boxes at home. I didn't have white rice. I didn't have Tonkatsu sauce or the ingredients to make Tonkatsu sauce from scratch. Oh, and I don't ever deep fry anything.

So. Here's what I did instead.

I tenderized the chops (very important step).

Then I prepared my breading station. It is important to make sure that the flour and panko crumbs are seasoned properly.

Here's the best part. I had some barbecue sauce left over from the summer. So into the pot it went!

Fusion at its finest.

Then I fried them on a pan and sliced them at an angle to make them look pretty. I also made some brown rice to go with it. Looks decent, right? So yeah, I totally did not buy the Hunger Games cookbook.

Japanese-style Crispy Pork Chops

4 pieces of boneless pork chops
1/2 cup white all-purpose flour
Pinch of kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 tbsp paprika
1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper (less if you are sensitive to spicy food)
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp onion powder
1/2 tbsp Kosher salt
Good dash of ground black pepper
Prepared BBQ sauce
Olive oil

1. Tenderize pork chops with meat pounder.
2. You will need 3 plates to set up the breading station. The first plate should have all purpose flour mixed with kosher salt and black pepper. The second plate should have 2 eggs well beaten. The third plate should have the panko crumbs, paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, kosher salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly.
3. Lightly season the pork chops with salt and pepper. Take one piece of pork chop, dip into the flour station first, then egg station and then the panko station. Repeat for all the pork chops.
4. Bring a frying pan to medium-high heat with good dash of olive oil. Fry the pork chops for about 4 minutes on each side, checking periodically to make sure the crumbs are not burning. If they are burning, turn down the heat.
Note: if you notice that the crumbs are turning white instead of golden brown, that means there's not enough oil on the pan. Add a little at a time to make sure there's enough oil to brown the chops.
5. In the meantime, add BBQ sauce to a small saucepan on medium heat. Add water if necessary. The key is to achieve a consistency as a dipping sauce. Once it starts bubbling, turn the heat to low to keep warm until ready to serve.
6. When pork chops are cooked through (they should be hard to the pinch instead of being limp and soft), put them on a chopping board and slice at an angle. Serve with BBQ sauce immediately.

Mar 31, 2012

Spinach Banana Shake

Let's face it. This is the tree in front of my apartment. It went from this:

To this, within one single week:

Is just depressing.

But, let's look at this situation on the bright side, in a glass-half-full kinda way. Because I'm cheesy like that.

There's still time to work on those pale legs and flabby arms of mine. There's time before it gets so hot I can no longer hide inside my North Face. So, here's to eating healthier-

I know, you are probably rolling your eyes thinking, not green juice again! But believe me, this does NOT taste anything like spinach. It's so delicious and it helps you pack more greens into your diet. I like to add yogurt and flex seeds to pack some pro-biotic culture and fiber in there, but you don't have to.

I swear. Just close your eyes and try a sip. You won't regret it!

Spinach Banana Shake

1 ripe banana
1 cup packed spinach, or as much as you can stuff into to the magic bullet after putting the banana in
Soy milk
1 tbsp ground flexseed (optional)
Yogurt (optional)
Juice of half a lime (optional)

Put the banana and spinach into the blender/ magic bullet. If using, add ground flexseed, yogurt, and lime juice. Fill half the cup with soy milk, and the other half with water. Blend until smooth.

If you are using a regular blender, you can first add the banana, spinach, milk, and a little bit of water. After pulsing a few times, add water until desired consistency is achieved.

Mar 26, 2012

Coffee Ice Cubes

Apparently, this is a "thing" now.

(picture from Elizabeth Ann Designs)

Do I really need more coffee than I already consume? Would Starbucks have this option? Would it be more expensive than a iced soy caramel macchiato? Does it have to be coffee-on-coffee, or could I get a glass of soy milk with coffee ice cubes? What about decaf? 

This situation is seriously, very complicated. 

Mar 24, 2012

Roasted Chicken with Mango Chutney

So how exciting is it that the weather is finally getting warm? That I can finally wear flip flops and dresses? 

That I don't have to run on the treadmill like a hamster anymore (at least for a few months), because the beach is 2 minutes away from my apartment? 

And that I can try to grow herbs at home? 

It's true, I have never kept any plants alive. Ever. And I have like, no space to grow anything. 

Ok, I cheated (just a little bit). The basil was from Trader Joes. But I managed to get a rosemary seed and a few cilantro seeds to sprout! 



And if these guys behave the way they should, I will have 4 of my favorite herbs at home in a few months!! You have no idea how excited I am. 

I will keep you guys updated on the plants... hehe :)

Anyway, I roasted some chicken last night. But this time I decided to make a little mango chutney sauce to go with it. The sweet and sour chutney was a perfect compliment to the spicy chicken. I served it with my favorite whole wheat couscous and a salad on the side. Happy cooking! 

Roasted Chicken with Mango Chutney  
Inspired by Simply Recipes

For roasted chicken: 
6 pieces of skin-on chicken thighs 
1 tsp paprika 
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder 
2 tsp kosher salt
Ground black pepper 

For mango chutney:
1 1/2 cup frozen mango chunks, thawed
Olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely grated
Scant pinch of red pepper flakes
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp mustard seeds (I didn't use)
2 tbsp chopped rasins (I didn't use)
1/2 cup water
Salt to taste

1. Preheat oven to 385F. 
2. Rinse and pat dry chicken pieces. Mix all the spices and coat the chicken pieces with the spices. Try to cover the area under the skin as well. 
3. Roast chicken for 35 minutes or until juices run clear.
4. In the meantime, heat a splash of olive oil on a saute pan on medium heat. Add onions and saute until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Then add the rest of the ingredients, bring the mixture to a boil and cover the pan. Simmer in low heat for about 30 minutes. The chutney should be ready around the same time when the chicken is done. 

Optional: To prepare couscous, add 1 cup of water to 1 cup of dry couscous and a splash of olive oil. Cover for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and add herbs of your choice. 

Mar 7, 2012


I miss Tahoe...

Because the snow was clean.

The redwoods were big, tall and full of life in the midst of winter.

The air was crisp.

The gondolas were fun!

And... the sky was just magical.

If I lived closer, I would be there every weekend.


Mar 1, 2012

Mocha Muffins with Chocolate Ganache Glaze

I love cupcakes, but I don't really make them at home. There are many reasons:

1. I don't own proper piping bags and tips, and I don't feel like buying them.
2. I don't own an electric mixer or a stand mixer, and I'm waiting for (preferably the latter) to magically appear on my doorsteps.
3. I am not a big fan of piping with a ghetto ziplock bag.
4. I cringe when I have to use more than half a stick of butter in one sitting.
5. I cringe even more when I have to combine said amount of butter with equal amounts of sugar and some heavy cream.

So I basically leave the task of cupcake-making to the hands of strangers and pretend that they are totally not going to offset the hours I clocked at the gym.

A girl can dream!

Anyway, this is my at-home rendition of cupcakes. Technically, they are just muffins with a layer of melted chocolate. But this is good enough for me. I used applesauce instead of oils in the cake, and the frosting had just a dollop of butter. Yup, they are pretty much guilt free!

Mocha Muffins with Chocolate Ganache Glaze
Adapted from Joy of Baking

Makes about 9 muffins

For muffins:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/8 cup whole wheat flour
1/8 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts or almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 large egg
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup safflower, corn, vegetable, or canola oil (I used 1/4 cup of applesauce)
1/8 cup black coffee at room temperature
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For chocolate ganache:
*See this recipe on allrecipes.com

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Line muffin cups with paper liners.
2. In a bowl, sift flours and cocoa power together. Add sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nuts and chocolate chips.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, oil, coffee and vanilla extract. 
4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Mix just enough to incorporate everything. 
5. Evenly fill the muffin cups and bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Set aside and let cool. 
6. Prepare chocolate ganache and frost the muffins after they have completely cooled. I just frosted with the back of a teaspoon. For a smooth effect, put the muffins back into the oven for about a minute. 

*if you are adventurous, and/or you don't have heavy cream at home, you can try this (as I did)- melt some chocolate chips on low heat, add a small drop of butter and just enough milk to achieve a silky consistency. You want the chocolate to be just soft enough for you to drip onto the muffins.