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.