Saturday, November 1, 2008

Stuffed Manicotti

This recipe involves a good amount of work, but it's definitely worth it. Hey, it's better than your typical "buy generic pasta and sauce-in-a-jar" meal.

I swear I'm not a food elitist. Hey, I use frozen spinach and canned sauce (with other stuff) in this recipe!

15 oz tub of ricotta cheese
Mozzarella - "enough"
~3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
10 oz frozen spinach (or about 1 1/2 cups cooked spinach)
~2/3 lb. Italian sausage
1 box of manicotti (mine had 14 shells in it)
Tomato sauce (use a recipe you like)

Cook your Italian sausage and spinach, and put them in a big bowl.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Country Fried Steak

I'm alive! more or less

I actually have been cooking, I've just been a bit lazy on the photo editing. And from looking through these photos, I guess I've been lazy on the shooting too...well, I'll try harder next time cough.

I don't know why, but I have somewhat of an obsession with southern food. Most likely due to being in the south for 3 weeks and eating a lot.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Been awhile, eh? I've been cooking, I've just been too lazy to edit and upload pics.

That said, here's a REALLY simple meal:

Friday, April 25, 2008

Chicken Cordon Bleu...kind of

I need some toothpicks. Or kitchen twine. And breadcrumbs.

Anyways, chicken cordon bleu is fairly simple--get some chicken breasts, cover one side with breadcrumbs (using the flour/eggwash/breadcrumb method), butterfly and pound to a uniform thin length, add ham and swiss, and roll it all up. Oh, and tie it up, or stick toothpicks through the seam so that it doesn't unroll on you.


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Pork Ribs, Pt. III - Finishing up

Almost done! Once the ribs have been cooking in the slow cooker for about 8 hours, take them out, put a last brushing of barbecue sauce on them, and put them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. Why do we finish in the oven? Because the dry heat of the oven helps caramelize that barbecue sauce into the meat--otherwise, you'll have ugly, soggy brown ribs.

Here they are, brushed with sauce and in the oven.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Pork Ribs, Pt. II - Preparation

Ribs, like any other somewhat tough meat, is best cooked low and slow. As in, use a low temperature, and cook for a really long time.

Ideally, I'd like to make barbecued ribs, but I don't really have access to a barbecue, nor do I have the ingredients or the experience. So I'm going to make "barbecue" ribs. Why the quotes? Cause I'm actually going to use a slow cooker and an oven.

But before we even start cooking, we have to do a bit of butchering. Spareribs are a huge cut of meat that can be broken down into 3 main parts, as you will see soon.


Pork Ribs, Pt. I - oh god what did i do

I couldn't resist. The weekly Albertsons paper said that pork spareribs were on sale for 99¢ a pound.

So I bought a whole rack of ribs. Yeah.

10 pounds of meaty goodness. Probably a bit less, since there are bones and all that.

I mean, come on, how often do you see prices like that? Unfortunately, I've never actually cooked ribs before, so we'll see how it all works out this weekend...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Beef with broccoli

It's not often that you see sirloin on sale for $2 a pound, so I had to take advantage of it. Sirloin is pretty tender as is, which means it's great for short and fast cooking--like stir-frying.

Recipe from Epicurious.

Ingredients: 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 pound sirloin, sliced against the grain 1/8 inch thick
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
10 ounces frozen broccoli florets, thawed
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/3 cup water

Ok, so I missed a bunch of pictures. Cut the sirloin as thin as you can (it's much easier to do this if you partially freeze the meat by throwing it into the freezer for about 30 minutes, since it'll hold its shape better while you're cutting it), then coat with cornstarch and add seasonings and stuff. And stuff.

Also, prep the broccoli and garlic.

Get the pan hot (like medium-high on the stove), and throw in the sliced sirloin. Let it sit for a bit so that you get that nice brown crust.

Once the sirloin is cooked, set it aside, add some more oil, then add the broccoli and garlic. Stir constantly, because a hot pan + garlic = burnt garlic, and burnt garlic = bad news. (so hot pan + garlic = bad news by transitivity?)

After about 2 minutes, add the sirloin back in, add the water and soy sauce to deglaze, scrape off all the good bits off the bottom of the pan, and let the liquids reduce to get a good sauce going.

Rather than water, I'm sure you could use something else. Vinegar? Shaohsing wine?

Serve over white rice.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Fettucine alfredo with chicken

As if that wasn't cliché enough.

I've always wanted to make some kind of pasta dish with alfredo sauce, because I've always heard that homemade alfredo sauce is easy to make, and much better than the jarred stuff.

Well, a lot of homemade things are better than their jarred equivalents, but that's not the point.

Wait, that is the point! Go make your own alfredo sauce after reading this, and you won't regret it (nor will you buy the jarred crap again).

1 lb Fettucine noodles
~1 lb chicken after skinning/deboning (preferably white meat, but I don't see why dark meat like thighs wouldn't work)
~1.5 cups heavy cream
1 stick of butter (I never said it was healthy, did I?)
Parmesan cheese (don't use the Kraft sawdust--I mean parmesan "cheese")

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


So uh, I've been getting into tea. Here's my collection so far--the tins on the left were bought from a guy on SA, and the tins on the right were from Adagio Teas. Note that these are loose-leaf teas, which are a bit different than the cheap tea that comes in teabags (although some companies do put the quality stuff in teabags).

What's the difference? Loose-leaf teas consist of whole (or slightly broken) rolled-up tea leaves, which are bigger and better than the stuff that comes in (most) teabags. To compare: The stuff in cheap teabags is made of the leftovers from sorting out the higher quality leaves.

Of course, that's not to say that teabags suck. It's just that the stuff that tends to come in teabags suck. Heck, I use empty teabags myself (or a teaball sometimes)--just fill up your infuser of choice with the right amount of loose-leaf tea, drop it in water at the right temperature, and leave it there (this would be called steeping) for the right amount of time. I won't go into detail, all those factors depend on the type of tea.

Oh, but that's not all we're going to look at! Today, we're going to step into my studio and look at these teas in detail.

Click the pictures to see an extra large picture. Like, really big.
like, "holy-crap-why-didn't-you-resize-these" big.

Keep in mind that I'm kind of new to tea, besides the jasmine tea served at Vietnamese restaurants. Now, observe my amateur taste notes.

This is Japanese green tea, with sakura essence. Fairly weak to my taste--well, maybe "weak" isn't the right word. More like subtle. There's a sweet aftertaste, and the 2nd infusion tastes better than the 1st! Overall, not my favorite, but not bad.

Ceylon black tea with bits of vanilla bean. Smells great, and the vanilla aftertaste is just right. Oh, and this tea is strong. I'm wasn't much of a black tea drinker, so that's probably why it hit me pretty hard when I first took a sip. Now, however, it's one of my favorite teas, as you can see from the fact that there's less tea left in this tin compared to the other tins. I could drink this everyday.

Well, I almost do.

Peppermint "tea." Technically not really tea, since tea is made from Camellia sinensis. Instead, this is called an herbal tea.

That said, I really don't like this. Every time I breathe in or out after drinking a sip of this, I get this minty feeling, and it's really, really weird. It's also extremely strong. I tried mixing a tiny pinch of this with the vanilla black tea, and the taste of peppermint was still overwhelming. Ugh.

Now the teas from Adagio, which I just received today. I ordered a sampler pack of oolong teas, which consists of 4 mini-tins of different oolong teas. This is one of them, darjeeling. Haven't tried it yet. The leaves smell food, I guess.

Edit: I tried a cup, and this tastes pretty similar to the jasmine tea that I've had before. The tea itself doesn't have the "fish food" smell that the tea leaves have, which is good. The taste is halfway between "in your face" and "not really in your face," which I hope makes sense to you cause it doesn't to me. I like it, it's good to drink once in a while, and I can totally see this being served with food (or possibly used in food).

Jasmine tea, the 2nd tea from the oolong sampler pack. Heck yeah. I haven't tried it, but it smells like...jasmine. Good jasmine. Also, notice how these leaves are rolled up into balls? When you drop them into hot water, it's supposed to look pretty cool with the balls unfurling and infusing the water. I wouldn't know, I haven't tried it yet.

But don't they look cool?

Pouchong, the 3rd tea in the oolong sampler. Haven't tried it yet.

The 4th tea in the oolong's oolong tea. Haven't tried it yet. (give me a break, I just got these today.)

Earl Grey tea. I ordered a larger tin than the oolongs (this is actually the 2nd smallest tin size), cause I had this feeling that I would like it.

I was right. It's awesome.

Earl Grey consists of black tea flavored with bergamot orange. See those bits of orange peel in the tin? Those things. To my unrefined palate, the balance of black tea to orange flavor seems just right. No wonder Earl Gray tea is so popular.

Well, that's it! I hope you clicked on those pictures to see the teas in detail, because I spent a lot of time setting up those pictures in my expensive studio. Here, take a look at my expensive studio:
The idea for this whole ghetto setup came from reading strobist. Rather than waste some fresh sheets of printer paper, I decided to use some old math homework as the diffusers for the light.

I'm not kidding, I really used old math homework.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Why am I even posting this?

I don't know either, but here's some slightly burnt bacon:

I haven't cooked breakfast in a while, alright?

Hands down, the hardest part in making this was waking up early enough to make it. How often do you see natural light--as in, light from the sun--in my food photos? Yeah. Never. You know why? Cause by the time I wake up, the sun's gone.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Tomato sauce, meatloaf, pizza.

Sure, the food that I listed in the title sounds like simple food, but they're actually uh...

..ok, they are simple.

But simple food made well from scratch can be just as good as fancy food made crappily. Not that I'm trying to refer to anything in particular.

First up, we have a kind of tomato meat sauce. I don't know what to call it, cause it was completely winged, and it's pretty standard. Add plain tomato sauce and tomato paste, ground beef, red onions, a bit of sugar, oregano, basil, parsley, other herbs and spices to taste and simmer for 2+ hours. Mushrooms would've been nice if I had them.

Serve over some form of pasta (I cheated and used tortellini prefilled with cheese), and grate some real parmesan on top. It was great! Simple, easy, and much better than any of those crappy jarred sauces.

A couple of days later, I made some meatloaf. You'll see a million recipes on the net, just pick one that sounds good. The meatloaf turned out pretty good--I would've liked some kind of tomato glaze with it, but I didn't have the ingredients for one, so I shredded some pepper jack cheese over the slices.

And finally, pepperoni pizza. I swear I will get this perfect someday. I hope.

Anyways, dealing with dough is a real pain. I didn't even make the dough, but stretching/rolling it out is a lot harder than it looks--some areas will bunch up, some areas will tear from being too thin, etc.

The pizza sauce was simple--can of plain tomato sauce, small can of tomato paste, oregano, basil, parsley, a bit of sugar. Very similar to that pasta sauce I made earlier.

Then get your oven as hot as you can (the hotter, the better--I used 500 degrees), put in the pizza, and wait about 10 minutes, or until it looks ready.

Whoops, a bit burnt. But hey, that's not a bad thing.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A 3-course collaboration.

So this is a month late, but I don't care. Before I left for UCI, Brian and I collaborated and made a 3 course meal.

Seared Scallops over a Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Pork Loin Roulade with Cranberry-Pear Stuffing over a Balsamic Cranberry Reduction
Pear Soup

And what better way to show collaboration than by putting your knives together? Mine's the professional looking one.

So the first course was seared scallops over a roasted red pepper sauce. That, of course, meant we had to roast peppers.

For some reason, I didn't take any more pictures of the process. Final plated pictures are at the end of this post.

The 2nd course was a pork loin roulade stuffed with cranberry and pear stuffing, over a balsamic cranberry sauce. Here's Brian spiral-cutting the pork loin...

... so that it unrolls into a nice flat sheet of delicious (expensive) pork.

His knife is shiny, but it's just not professional-looking, don't you think? Totally.

Of course, season the pork, as you would with almost everything you cook.

Make the stuffing (cut up pears and somewhat stale bread, add cranberries, add a bit of chicken broth and roll up the pork. That's me rolling up the pork, and trust me, it ain't easy.

So when making roulades (especially big roulades like this), you want to secure whatever you're rolling up, either with kitchen twine or with toothpicks. I didn't have kitchen twine, and this was too big for toothpicks, so uh.....we used floss to tie up the pork.

A lot of floss.

After about an hour of roasting, take the whole thing out, sear it in a big pan, and let it rest for a bit. Then cut it up and serve.

Final pictures, with commentary:

The seared scallops were pretty good! That was actually my first time eating scallops--I don't know if it was a good idea to cook something I've never tasted before, but it worked out. The roasted red pepper sauce, on the other hand, was waaay too mild. Using bell peppers wasn't the best idea.

The "pork" part of the pork roulade was great. No wonder a whole pork loin is expensive...
The stuffing was too fruity. Looking back, I don't know what we were thinking when we decided on a pear-cranberry stuffing...with a cranberry sauce.

That balsamic cranberry reduction was great, though.

The pear soup was pretty easy. Sauté the pears in butter and brown sugar, and let it cook in the butter-brown sugar mixture until they become soft. Then blend it up (my stick blender got some good usage that day) and serve.

Overall, it was...alright. I think our total cooking time was 6 hours or something ridiculous like that. Cook more, learn more, eh?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


I usually don't even post about little things like these, but I figure I've been...lacking a bit recently, so here's a picture of salmon steaks searing on my calphalon everyday pan. Rub with olive oil, add salt, pepper, montreal steak seasoning, and put on very high heat.

No, I'm not kidding--montreal steak seasoning. Just try it one day.