Still super busy with other things currently. I think I'm gonna have to stop worrying about making every post be super fancy and well photographed if i wanna keep this thing going.

Stay tuned.

For now, here's some slow-cooker Ratatouille I made the other day (picture taken before cooking.)




Sorry i haven't been all that active on here the last week.

A few things are to blame:

1) I'm trying to be frugal this month, and my "publishable" cooking adventures tend towards the expensive.
2) My creativity has been spread thin because I've been painting and playing bass and hiking a lot this week (guess i can put a few pictures of that stuff on here even though it isn't food-related).
3) The few things that I did cook nicely, I failed to take enough pictures of, or they were someone else's recipe and i didn't alter anything, or something like that.

So because of all this, I'll just throw some photos up here and call it a day.

I promise to make something delicious and take proper pictures soon. (Thinking gazpacho is in order pretty soon.)

anyway here we go:

the kimchi i made is ready!
Not the best ever, but now I know what to try the second time around (more napa, more garlic, less diakon, more finely ground chilis... i really need a mortar and pestle). Another round and I might be ready to go into full production mode.

Adventures in Acrylic Abstract

A hike by the bay! (Albany Bulb)

A dragon made out of trash! (I heart repurposed junk.)

Heart of palm and chipotle soup!
(Thanks to ingrid hoffman, as usual.)

Heart of palm and chipotle soup in soup form.

Cupcakes courtesy of my roommate Mike. Spice cake with orange, cream-cheese-based mint and jalapeño frosting. The final version was topped with candied jalapeño, but he didn't garnish them at home so I couldn't take that picture, alas.

Punjab Saag with chicken and saffron rice.

Happy Tuesday everyone!


Massaman Curry

One of these days I'll get some category listings on here... the way things have been going, it seems like maybe I'll only need two categories: Thai and not Thai.

This weekend, I took a great suggestion from my dad and tried my hand at Massaman Curry. As I usually do when attempting a new dish, I consulted a variety of recipes and figured out the common ingredients, and then made my own variation.

I am DEFINITELY making this again. However, next time I'm going to make my own curry paste. I would have done so this time, but i still haven't gotten around to getting a mortar and pestle, so I just bought some pre-made stuff.

As suggested by many of the recipes, I also made some fragrant rice and Ajaat. Ajaat is a really nice salad on its own, but as complement to the massaman curry, it is simply perfect. (This is a ridiculously rich curry, so the light salad works really well to balance it out.)

I'm not going to bother retyping the the recipe for Ajaat because I just used a recipe that i found over at realthairecipes.com, which I would highly recommend to anyone with a desire to learn some good Thai recipes. The only thing i will say about the Ajaat is to prepare it at least 2-3 hours before you plan to serve it. Here are some pictures of my Ajaat; I wish I would have had some red chilis to round out the color, but it was delicious nonetheless. There's always next time, right?

No idea why i didn't use my new mandoline for this. Habit i guess.
shallots, water, sugar, salt, vinegar

Ok, now that that's out of the way, let's get to the Massaman!

4-5 Tbsp. Massaman curry paste
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil  (peanut oil might be a good choice too)
1 lb. beef
2 medium white potatoes
1 medium yellow onion
handful of roasted peanuts
1 cup coconut cream
2 cans coconut milk
3-4 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
4 cardamom pods
palm sugar (to taste)
fish sauce (to taste)
tamarind paste (to taste)

Start by heating up one of the cans of coconut milk in a medium pan over low heat.

Dice the beef into bite-sized chunks and simmer in the coconut milk over low heat for half an hour. While this is going on, cut the potatoes and onions into bite sized pieces as well.

Over medium-high heat, fry the curry paste until it is fragrant (3-5 minutes). Stir very frequently so it doesn't burn.

Now add the thick white part of the coconut cream and mix it into the curry paste thoroughly.  
Discard the clear watery portion of the coconut cream (or save for some other use). Now strain the beef and discard the coconut milk that it was simmered in. Add the beef, stir well, and simmer for another 3 minutes or so.

Add the potatoes, onion, and peanuts.

Add the other can of coconut milk, stir well, and simmer for a few more minutes.

Add the cinnamon, cardamom, and bay leaves (actually supposed to use cassia leaves, but i haven't been able to track any down yet).

Simmer for another 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add fish sauce, palm sugar, and tamarind paste to taste.  I used about two tablespoons each of fish sauce and tamarind paste, and a tablespoon or so of palm sugar.  Mix well and serve.

At some point in this process (depending on how you like to cook rice), prepare some fragrant rice.  Jasmine rice with saffron pictured.

Serve over rice with a nice portion of Ajaat alongside.

Coconut Milk


Lamb Pho (Phở)

Oh, how i love phở.

Vietnamese pronunciation: [fə̃ː] (listen)
(thanks Wiki)

Sorry to any picky spellers out there... I really don't feel like typing out the special character every time i want to say phở in this post, so i'm just gonna use an o. Fair enough?

Anyway, I've been obsessed with pho ever since the first time I visited the bay area and had my first bowl at Le Cheval.

However, the true obsession came when I began learning to make it on my own.

I've made beef pho several times (and in a manner very very similar to this recipe, just with beef bones and meat). I also commonly use my freezer compost bag to make veggie pho. However, the other day at Farmer Joe's, I came across an awesome pile of lamb bones and it was like a koala bear crapped a rainbow in my brain.

Eureka! Lamb Pho!!

Alright, I'm gonna dive right into the actual recipe this time, so here we go.

ingredients  (serves 4-6, I made a double batch)

5-6 lbs. lamb bones, leg and knuckle bones preferred.
2 onions, halved
2″ nub of ginger, halved lengthwise
4 cloves garlic
1 lb. of lamb stew meat
1 cinnamon stick
1 Tbsp. coriander seeds
1 Tbsp. fennel seeds
5 star anise
2 cardamom pods
6 whole cloves
1 1/2 Tbsp. salt
1/4 cup fish sauce
1 Tbsp. sugar
dried chilis
1 spice bag, or other unbleached food-safe fine mesh bag

2 lbs. rice noodles (dried or fresh)
limes, cut into wedges
scallion, chopped
chili peppers, sliced
bean sprouts
Oyster sauce
Fish sauce
Chili Paste

I realize that i just made a list of not-so-incredibly-common ingredients for the average fridge or pantry...
I don't keep an average pantry though. Pho ingredients are almost always on-hand in my house... usually all i need to buy when i want to make a batch is bones, meat, and the fresh stuff for the bowls.


Very first step: fill a LARGE pot with cool water and bring to a rapid boil.

While waiting for that to boil, you can char the onion, ginger, and garlic. Crank up the oven, slice the onions and ginger in half, brush the sliced sides lightly with olive oil, and put on the top rack of the oven and roast for 10-20 minutes, until visibly charred. Once this is done, set aside.

Once the water in the pot is boiling, put all of the bones in and continue to boil rapidly for 10 minutes. This is a really gross step. Unless you like stinky brown foam.

Dump out the water, rinse the pot thoroughly, and rinse the bones thoroughly.

Fill the pot again with cool water and put the bones back in. Add a few dried chilis as well. (I used a few chile de arbol chilis because I have a hojillion of them) Bring this back to a boil.

While waiting for the water to boil(again) take the cinnamon stick, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, star anise, cardamom pods, and cloves and put them in the little spice bag.

Once the water is boiling again, lower to a simmer. Add the ginger, onion, garlic, spices, sugar, salt, stew meat, and fish sauce and simmer uncovered for an hour and a half.

Remove the stew meat and set aside for later. Continue simmering for another hour and a half.

Towards the end of this hour and a half, you can prepare the bevy of condiments and herbs and noodles that are required for this soup.

Depending on how hands-on you want this meal to be for your guests, you can do as much prep for these things as you want.  At the very least, slice up some limes, fresh chilis, and scallions. I also like to at least remove all the big stems from the herbs, if not chop them up a bit.

You'll also want to cut or shred up the stew meat at this point, and prepare some rice noodles.  (Use the directions on the rice noodles, or use some that you are familiar with, because they seem to vary quite a bit, especially if you're lucky enough to get fresh rice noodles).

At the end of the second hour and a half of simmering the broth, remove and discard all the bones, strain the broth as well as possible through a fine mesh strainer, and adjust seasoning to taste (I usually end up adding more fish sauce and a bit of salt at this point).

Bring the broth back to a boil and serve!

This was hands down the best pho I have ever made.

Lamb on FoodistaLamb
Star Anise on FoodistaStar Anise


Photo Catch Up Day!!

I pretty much did nothing this weekend except rotate between hanging out in the sun and cooking.

I could live pretty happily like this for a long time.

I have way way way too many pictures to try to make a post for each of these dishes, so I'm just going to do another long catch-up post with several dishes vaguely described. (I don't have recipes developed for any of this anyway.)

Plus I'm making lamb pho tonight so i want to make a proper recipe post for that one.

Anyway here we go!

We'll start off with round two of Thai Shenanigans and Tom Yummery™. I'm really enjoying Thai flavors lately, but I'm not really using any recipes or even keeping track of what I'm using enough to be able to recreate any of this exactly.  I'm just loving the basic sets of flavors and learning about how they work together.

Thai stir-fry or soup is quickly becoming something I just throw together on autopilot when I don't feel like cooking anything new.

This one was coconut milk and green curry, with peas, bamboo, zucchini, and eggplant.  Pretty Tasty.

Also this day I found some ridiculous prawns.  These seem to be at my local store quite a bit recently.  Those blue legs are making my normal boring bag of shrimp shells that I keep for stock look pretty exciting.

I threw these prawns in my third attempt at Tom Yum...

The second batch I made was still by far the best, but this was still pretty good.

From left to right:
minced ginger/garlic/lemongrass
fresh red chilis
fresh shiitake mushroom
limes in back (duh)

To this i added a chopped chayote, which is a Central American thing really, but it works awesome with Southeast Asian food.

I also added straw mushrooms, baby corn, cilantro, and some squid... it just seemed right.

This all happened the day that i made kimchi, by the way. I was on a roll that day.

Ok what's next... 

Oh! Mike made a big farmer's breakfast, which i didn't document very well, but I ate it very happily.

You know that spot that people are always referring to? This totally hit it.

I also attempted a breakfast item, but after doing the prep work, and then eating what Mike had made, I decided to save it for later. It didn't end up working out, but I do love my new mandoline nonetheless.

Finally, we have today's ad hoc lunch. This is all stuff I happened to have on-hand, which makes me feel like I'm beginning to be a pretty good predictive grocery shopper.

That's Italian style smoked chicken and turkey sausage, artichoke, onion, dried basil and oregano, and crushed red pepper.

Add stock, reduce.

Add crème fraiche, reduce again, serve on noodles!

Ok that's it for today, I'm off to make the biggest batch of lamb Pho ever.
I'll take some pictures :)