Curry in no hurry

My take on deconstructed curry: grilled ahi (medium rare) with curry oil atop a sweet garlic-coconut milk puree. The curry oil is literally all the ingredients I would normally use in a green curry, pulverized with grapeseed oil, then sieved through fine mesh screen. I made the garlic puree by blanching garlic cloves about 8 times to remove the bitter, hotness. It tastes so good when blended with coconut milk! Almost like a creamy garlic-mashed potato, but all garlic!

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Deconstruction of food is literally what it sounds like; changing the visual and physical form of a dish with the goal to taste the same nuances and flavors of the original dish when eaten together.

In the middle of a summer cleanse at the moment. Normally, I do a 3 week dietary change in Spring, however, a long term systemic bout of poison oak spurred on the need for a clean break. The dry weather here in No. Cal has really turned the dirt here into a crumbly and dusty mess of dry foliage and ruby red decaying leaves of evil.

This dish is cleanse friendly and reminded me that it’s not always boring salad time when you can get creative!

Recipe inspired by Manresa Cookbook. (sorry about the hack job on the fish.. I didn’t ckeck my knife’s sharpness and it sawed at the meat.) Since my husband opted for sausage at dinner, I only had one chance to plate. :)

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Technically, this is not cleanse friendly because of the pork casing, however, this is a salmon sausage, made fresh at our local grocer. Full of dill and capers and spices!

California Towhee

Happy Mothers day! Yesterday, we found some eggs in the brush next to the house. They were about 1.5″ long.

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They are pale gray with speckles.

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This morning, there were little birds! They don’t make any noise, which is good because there are quite a few predators that can easily find them in the exposed brush. I hope they grow up fast!

Red snapper taco bowl

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Cabbage slaw with seasoned red snapper homemade chili sauce and limes!
Take 2 filets of snapper and sprinkle on a tablespoon of a mix of ground dried epazote, a dash of cumin seed, fresh black pepper and a teaspoon of sea salt. Rub thoroughly into fish and then massage in a tablespoon of olive oil.  Let rest at room temp until ready to grill.

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In the meantime, brown some dried chipotles, arbol, and garlic cloves.  Leave the skin on.  When the peppers are puffy and fragrant, remove them into a bowl and pour some hot water over to soften them.  Remove the skins off the garlic and chop off the ends.  After soaking the chilies, they should be pliable.  (save the steeping liquid) Remove the hard ends, deseed, and pulverize with the garlic and add either clean water or the steeping liquid.  Add salt until the flavor comes through, is to your heat liking.  It’s ok if it’s too hot, add water until the consistency is enough to dip a chip and have it stick but not dribble off.  I rarely use more than 1/2 cup of liquid to this many dry ingredients. 

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This is another batch so you can see the color, but it is too thick.

This is a very tasty chili sauce and easy to make.

Sunday noodles

Ever since I was young, Sunday has been noodle day. While everyone else goes out for brunch, I just want to find a noodle house and slurp my way to the bottom of the bowl.

Here is my version of Dan Dan noodles using a supply of leftover lemongrass skirt steak and rice noodles.

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I find if I get all my garnishes ready first my preparation time and plating isn’t stressed. Here are chopped cilantro julienned cucumber and sliced scallion.

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Last night I marinated and grilled a skirt steak in a blend of lemongrass, garlic, shallots, and grapeseed oil. For this dish, which requires some chopped, fatty pork or beef, I decided to mince the leftover beef and mix it with a little soy and chili oil.

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The base of the sauce differs from each online recipe and I couldn’t find one that seemed to encompass all the right flavors. I used a mild bean paste that didn’t have msg and blended it in equal parts Chinese sesame paste. I added in chopped ginger and about 6 cloves of garlic plus a dash of the sesame paste oil.  This was a thick paste I then used to fry the meat and pickled veggies with.

I decided deglazing using Chinese cooking wine and broth worked best.

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Before I did that, however, I toasted the sichuan peppercorns and a few dried chilies first and removed them to cool.

That heated the wok and tickled my nose!.  Into the hot wok went sesame oil, pickled mustard root, snow cabbage, then the paste, and finally the meat.  I deglazed the wok with wine when the paste started to dry out and stick. After another minute, I added a few ladles of hot chicken broth and turn down to simmer.

With recently soaked rice noodles, you barely need to cook them.  I just turned off a boiling pot of water and put in the whole pile of noodles. After waiting a few minutes, pull the noodles out with a wire basket, rinse with warm water, and put into a bowl to drain slightly. 

I used a mortar and pestle to grind the hot chilies and numbing spices into powder.  I also crushed some roasted peanuts for garnish.

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Plate a small handful of the noodles, a cup and a half of meat sauce on the side and a sprinkle of garnishes in mini piles on top. I like to pour a half ladle of broth on the bottom of the bowl to add some extra sauciness.

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As with all noodles, this dish is best mixed together. Don’t be shy!  I like adding a dash of black vinegar to brighten up the dish. 

Hot pot: divided style

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I asked my mom to help buy a new divided hot pot for us.  Normally, we purchase all the ingredients for the meal, but this was a really busy week and I had no time to go shopping.  She and my step-dad purchased all the greens and most of the meats.  I wanted to try a spicy and a mild version of broth last night.

The soup base I made was made with  fermented black bean, garlic, ginger, Sichuan peppercorns and dried chilies, galangal, fennel seed, star anise, and cinnamon.  The broth base was oxtail, chicken, roasted duck, and spot prawn heads.  Fusion at its finest!

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My parents took so long with the traffic to Santa Cruz, I ended up making 3-4 dipping sauces: peanut and tamarind sauce, flavored fish sauce with shallots, a green sauce of scallion, garlic and ginger, a spicy tomato sauce, and a blend of chopped Thai chili and garlic for those of us who love it super spicy!

I also made pork meatballs that were tiny and fun to cook.  I don’t like eating packaged meat or fishballs due to the preservatives and unknown ingredients.  Also, most premade Asian foods seem to have MSG in them.

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The spot prawns were my favorite! They were bought live so I used the heads to flavor the stock.  I dislike keeping them on because their long antenna just get in the way of cooking.. and it creeps me out.

My second favorite was the lamb meat.  I couldn’t seem to cook the squid properly as it kept tasting really tough. My favorite sauce was the peanut with a dollap of tomato.   We had pea sprouts, Nappa cabbage, enoki and trumpet mushrooms, too.  The end of the meal we threw in a little bean thread noodle, which cooked in seconds and soaked up all the intense rich broth from the night’s cooking. 

The saddest part was my realizing we still had a few dozen fresh scallops in the fridge that I forgot to take out for hot pot! Whoops!

Hot pot round 2?

New food ideas!

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These little pods are Japanese Miyoga. I pickled them in a little lemon juice and rice vinegar. You can eat them raw, but it’s fun with a little tartness. Stir fried bittermelon with tomatoes, sprouted lentil salad with radish sprouts, avocado, and one way rolled in a nori wrapper!

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Normal juice breakfast! Kale, celery, Apple, fennel.

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Lunch with similar wrap adding cucumber and a pomelo-berry salad.

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Breakfast juice! Sweet potato, pomelo, apple, and frozen peach.

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Steamed bass over Chinese water spinach.

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Stuffed artichoke with quinoa, herbs, and olive oil.

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Quinoa crust fritata bites.

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Thai young coconut larb with cumin cauliflower rice.

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So much salad!

I’m 2/3 through my Spring cleanse!

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stirfried long beans and carrots

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dirty brown and red rice

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yam hash browns

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stir fry gai lan and sprouted beans

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Sprouted lentil stew

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Sweet yam chips

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Slaw
Just some new dishes that are vegetarian and awesome!

Work Kitchen 95% remodeled

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What was a craigslist, free, or hand me down kitchen, is now a fun and inviting space to cook and prep food! 

I’m waiting for a local woodworker to plane an old growth plank of wood for us to use as a thin counter on the left hand wall.  All that needs installing is the microwave / fan combo over the stove! 

Remodeling the office kitchen.

It’s going slowly. 

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The builder had a few pieces delivered to our office today.  The most important element was the sink.  Unfortunately, the shelves weren’t ready for installation, so our hodge podge storage and kitchen is still only halfway complete.  Having a few surfaces and working counters is great, but where does all the stuff go?

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Let’s focus on the positives!
New corner shelf and stove align perfectly! Height and depth of range are perfect. 

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The sink is rad!  The top of the sink is biased to the left so it reaches the pipes properly.  I just noticed the dish rack may be too wide.. the surface looks a little skinny. Hmmm.

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This cabinet has some deep drawers! Super! Perfect to put dishware so it’s not collecting dust. 

The empty spot between the sink and hutch will house the garbage and recycling bins.  I notice we generate a lot of each!  Our office location makes it a little challenging to buy food, so most everyone brings in their lunch or cooks in the office. 

Again, it’s a progress shot, so I have to keep reminding myself of how it used to be..

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It’s getting there… :P oh.. don’t mind the missing side panel on the close hutch.  They will make a cosmetic piece to fit over that. :)

Meatballs with a chance of rain..

Sunday was a day of non stop rain. I felt a bit of cabin fever so I decided to make something with meatballs..

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I sliced sweet potato, carrots and green beans, and roasted them in a cast iron tagine pot. Then I added some meatballs. I set this in the oven at 400 to roast for 15 minutes.

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In the meantime, I made an appetizer using cashew cream cheese, parsley, and prosciutto..

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I shared this with my husband.  He liked it, so I made another one.

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The second time, I added fresh lemon juice and it was better.  The joy of cooking is making up little treats on a whim and having fun with food.

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So, to make this dish really sing, I sliced some dried persimmon and squeezed a cup of fresh orange juice into the pot and let everything steam until dry.

I would never recommend this with cooked meatballs, but because these are super moist meatballs made with buttermilk and panko, you cannot destroy the tenderness!  They are just perpetually moist.

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The sweet persimmon, sweet potato balanced by the savory meatballs, al dente carrots and beans and springy wild rice went well with the slightly salty and smooth refried black bean.  It was a dish with all my favorite sides and a handful of plump meatballs presented as a whole.

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The usually empty hole in the ground is full and ready for wild hogs and birds to bathe in it! :) Pretty fun Sunday brunch with 14″ of good rainfall! 

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