Posts tagged ‘food’
Apparently, it’s been three years since either Lina or myself have updated our blog. Good news is, I feel like I have plenty to start writing about again.
So why the rebirth? Long story short is that I’ve gone from cute and chubby to cute and fat. So much so that it’s now affecting my health. So almost two months ago, I decided it was time to make a life change. That meant eating better and exercising. I love sweets, rice, and meat. Part of this change meant I needed to eat vegetables and fruits and cut down on the things that I love. I’ve had to find vegetables I do like and recipes to incorporate it with some protein. I’ve made quite a few dishes that I’ve enjoyed and have been placed in the “I will eat you again” pile and there’s others I’d rather not have again.
Recipes will be posted. Food will be showcased. Today’s real post is about my veggie purchase this week and how I ate broccoli and didn’t die!
Every once in a while, the hubby and I like to hit up the Eastside Farmer’s Market. There’s over 50 vendors, including food trucks and stands. This past weekend was absolutely beautiful, so I convinced him we needed to go.
Priorities. Breakfast. Let me start with, I loathe broccoli. I refuse to eat it. The smell makes me nauseous and in my opinion, anything that smells like that can’t possibly be edible. However, Shade & Canopy has a stand at the market and in trying to decide what to eat, I settled on this quiche:
It looked amazing and it smelled delicious, but it had broccoli in it. Oh yeah. All those little green specs is broccoli. I ate it, because I was hungry, and I thought I should give it a go since I’m trying to eat more veggies, and, amazingly, I didn’t die eating it. It was actually really good, but it was likely masked by the tomatoes, yellow squash, creamy eggs, italian sausage and smoked gouda all up in it, too.
We walked around a bit and people watched and doggie watched. There are so many cute dogs at the market. This is what we ended up with. The most difficult choice I had to make was which farm was I buying eggs from. We picked up two dozen eggs, a lovely acorn squash, beautiful cherry tomatoes, yellow squash and some really fresh bibb and green leaf lettuce. I plan on making some roasted tomatoes and squash thing, so I’m sure I’ll post about that soon.
It was nice to blog again. It really has been so long. On a side note, as of today, I’m down 23 pounds. ^_^
The boyfriend and I love banh mi. I’m sure the rest of you do, too, which is why you’re here! We live in Houston, where the Vietnamese community is huge and there is no shortage of banh mi shops, so I could just drive 10 minutes and pick up some. But so why make it if it’s easily available? Honestly, it’s because I love food and I love to cook. I love learning and recreating my favorite dishes, making it more my own. Also, what else is a sick girl supposed to do all day? Resting sucks. Cooking rocks.
I can always count on The Ravenous Couple’s recipes as a starting point for Vietnamese food. Their bo luc lac is spot on and it seems to be the go to recipe for all my Vietnamese friends, too. So, that’s where I turned to for this banh mi thit nuong (grilled bbq sandwich) recipe.
There are many components to a banh mi. You’ve typically got your bread, meat, mayo, pickled carrots/daikon, cucumber, cilantro, sliced jalapenos, black pepper, and Maagi seasoning. And, if you’re really ambitious, a fried egg (omg so yum maybe next time) Personally, the only veggies I like on my sandwich are the carrots/daikon, which is what you see above. Banh mi bread is not your typical french bread roll. The banh mi rolls, in my opinion, are fluffier and the crust isn’t as tough. I went to the local Vietnamese grocery store when they first opened and got first dibs on the freshly baked bread. It smelled heavenly. It was so warm and soft, with that little bit of crunch. I literally wanted to stop right there and eat a roll. For obvious reasons, I did not. I decided to also pickle my own carrots and daikon radish. That, too, was there for me to just buy, but where’s the fun in that? The boyfriend’s mom gave me this awesome julienne slicer for Christmas and what better way to use it than for the carrots and daikon? Now, I was completely motivated to make my own mayo spread, but the one they had at the grocery was freshly made and looked so good, so I caved and bought it. Next time, I’ll make my own because I felt this one was missing something.
On to the recipes….and pictures 🙂 I’m starting with the pickled carrots and daikon radish as you can get that done and out of the way.
Pickled Carrots and Daikon (adapted from The Ravenous Couple):
Ingredients are simple: thinly sliced carrots, thinly sliced daikon radish, white distilled vinegar, salt, and sugar.
(Note: I didn’t have white distilled vinegar so I just used what I had on hand which was definitely not distilled)
I took my carrot and daikon and peeled them. Using the julienne slicer, I was able to get them sliced thinly. If you don’t have that tool, cutting with a knife or using a fancy food processor will provide the same results. I placed all the sliced carrots/daikon in a 17 oz jar that I had bought from the store. Then, I filled the jar with just enough vinegar to cover the veggies. Next, season with almost equal parts sugar and salt. I used 3 tsp. of sugar and 2 tsp. of salt and I felt it was still too tart. The pickled veggies should be a nice balance of the tart, sweet, and salty. The boyfriend LOVED what I did, but I felt it was too tart for my tastes. Pickle your veggies for at least an hour before use. You’ll be happy to know that the pickled veggies will last months in the fridge so make larger batches if you feel you’ll use them on anything else! Ta da!
Banh Mi Thit Nuong (Grilled BBQ Vietnamese Sandwich) – Also adapted from The Ravenous Couple
- 1.5 lb pork butt or shoulder, thinly sliced just under 1/4 inch or so (not too thin as you do not want it to dry out when grilled. Ask your butcher to do this for you. Also, do not use lean pork as it will become dry.)
- 1 tbsp. minced Lemongrass (xa bam). Many Asian markets will sell minced lemongrass in the freezer section.
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tbs fish sauce
- 1 tbs ground pepper
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced.
- 2-3 shallots, minced.
- 3 tbs sesame oil
- 1 tbs thick soy sauce (not regular soy sauce–has molasses, making it thicker and adding great color. If not available, can use caramel sauce. Both can be found at Asian groceries)
- 4-6 banh mi rolls (French bread rolls) or if that’s not available, 2 loaves of French bread or 4-6 demi baguettes
- optional 1 cucumber, sliced thin
- optional 1/2 bunch cilantro
- optional jalapeno, thinly sliced
- pickled carrots/daikon
- Vietnamese mayo – I call it that because it’s not butter and it’s not your typical Kraft mayonnaise, so that’s what i’m sticking with.
In a large bowl, add your lemongrass, sugar, fish sauce, pepper, garlic, shallots, sesame oil, and thick soy sauce. Add the meat and make sure to mix well and incorporate all the ingredients with the meat. Marinate in the fridge for at least an hour or two.
There are a few ways to cook this. You can use a grill with a grill basket, on a grill with skewers, or in a pan on a stove top. I, personally, don’t have the option of grilling so I used my grill type pan on my stove top. It left really pretty grill marks and still gave it that same char. Grill the meat til it’s nice and brown, with a bit of char.
Once the meat is cooked, you can put your sandwich together with all the condiments. I prefer my bread warm, so I’d preheat the oven to 265 degrees and warm the bread for about 5-10 minutes. Cut it in half, spread the mayo, add the meat, add the veggies, and whatever optional items you want on there and voila. Your sandwich awaits you!
The meat cooked really well and the sandwich itself was a hit. We were able to make 5 sandwiches with this batch. The boyfriend approves, so I’m sure I’ll be making this more often. I love the bread and I’m going to make my own mayo the next round. Til then!
Happy Eating – Chelle ^_^
I bought a new waffle iron to make beglian waffles and soon realized that I couldn’t just use my all purpose pancake/waffle mix (which came out too heavy and dense). But this was the perfect time to try out a yeast waffle recipe. A quick googling got me to http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/belgian-yeast-waffles-recipe and it’s pretty easy. I had recently bought some organic cultured butter which was perfect for this. I whipped it together in the morning and made waffles for lunch and dinner. They are so light and crispy and fluffy in the center. I just picked it up by hand and ate them plain, they need nothing else.
- 1/3 cup coconut oil or butter
1/2 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp rose powder (optional)
- 1 tbsp rose water
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 3/4 cup almond flour/meal
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
Cream together sugar and shortening, then incorporate one egg at a time till completely blended. Add in flavorings (rose powder, rose water, honey, almond extract) and almond flour, mix thoroughly. Then add flour and baking powder with the pinch of salt, mix till smooth. Preheat oven to 350º. Grease pans throughly. Try to under fill the molds, and you can get make 2 batches of the full sized madeleine pans or about 3 batches of minis. Bake for 18 min (for full sized pans, 13-15 for minis) till the top starts to turn golden brown. Cool for 5min before popping them out.
The garden yield a lot of cherry tomatoes, basil and cubanelle peppers (my bell peppers are few and slow growing). I haven’t been using my rosemary with all the basil around, rosemary will last far into autumn. Here I made a pesto with basil, garlic, walnuts, grapeseed oil, and a squeeze of lemon. I spread it on pizza dough coated in olive oil and push in the tomatoes. Since the pesto had no cheese it crumbled when you try to eat it but the flavors were amazing (you can add cheese to the pesto and it might hold together better). If I were to do it again I would fold the dough over the pesto and tomatoes.
I also made a gazpacho by blending the cherry tomatoes till it was liquid with a few cloves of garlic, a tablespoon or two of red wine vinegar, and a few pinches of salt and black pepper. I add in diced up cucumbers, onions, and bell pepper. Topped with lots of torn basil and some olive oil.
The photos make the peppers look large, these are like 5 inches long.
So far I’ve only gotten one pepper to red.
The black bell peppers are really small but cute and tasty. I’ve been throwing them in any dish that needs more veggies.
It’s Houston Restaurant Week!!! One of the reasons I love that my birthday is in August. hehe. For those not familiar with Houston Restaurant Week (HRW), it started in 2009 as a week long event where Houston restaurants offered their usually snazzy and pricey meals for a fixed price of $35.00. Each meal has your choice of appetizer, main entree, and dessert! And, for each meal sold, $5 will be donated to the Houston Food Bank. As I mentioned earlier, it started as a week long event, but it was so popular that it actually went on for 3 weeks.
This year, HRW runs from August 1-21. There are over 100 restaurants participating, so if you’re from Houston and haven’t been yet, you’ve still got time! It’s also for a good cause, so you’re doing your part for our community. So, as of today, I’ve eaten at two restaurants. I’m hitting up one more tomorrow, and probably a couple more before it ends next week. Keep in mind that HRW is reservation only. If you go to the site, reservations are easily made with OpenTable.
Tonight, however, I write to you about Ray’s Grill in Fulshear, TX which is right outside of the Katy/Richmond area. Most of you folks who live in the loop would never think to venture out that far, but I promise you, it is worth the trip. It is one of those hidden gems that you would never really know of unless someone told you. So, here I am, telling you.
The restaurant is quaint, but modern. There’s even a private room called The Maple Room at the back of the restaurant. The kitchen is open for all to see. The dimmed lights and live jazz band provided for a mellow ambiance. The staff was extremely friendly and we were seated promptly at one of the high tables viewing the kitchen. So my sister and I went on a Thursday night, which also happened to be Wine Tasting Night! I went in for food, and got to sample wine as well =) That makes for a happy Chelle!
**Note: I apologize for the low quality photos. I took them with my blackberry, and for you blackberry users, you know the photo quality is not up to par**
My sister was kind enough to give me her share as she is not the wine drinker. hehe. We were also first served their bread and cheese spread? I question it because we couldn’t decide if it was cheese or butter. That’s just how smooth it was and whatever herb/spice they put in it…yum. So, if someone from Ray’s is reading this, I’d really like you to know that the cheese(butter) spread is the bomb.com. But for HRW, their menu choices are listed here: http://www.raysgrill.com/wp-content/uploads/Menu-HRW2010.jpg
While my sister opted for the New England style seafood chowder, I decided on the jumbo lump crab cakes with a lemon butter sauce. They were delicious. I was nice and shared one with my sister, but I still remember the taste. See, the problem I find at some restaurants is that the crabcakes have too much “cake” and not enough crab. The breading with Ray’s crabcakes were perfect. The crab meat was fresh and it was just so rich and full of flavor. And that lemon butter was heavenly. YUM. I did also have a few spoonfuls of the seafood chowder. So tasty! Even tastier when you dip your bread in it. hehehe.
Doesn’t that look lovely? That my friends is the NY Strip Steak over a bed of french fries, topped with their barbecue sauce. My steak was properly cooked at medium well, flavorful and juicy. I usually find bbq sauce to be too tangy for my tastebuds, but Ray’s bbq sauce was just right. It was a great balance of sweet & tangy. My only complaint is that I wish there was a little more bbq sauce ^_^ The fries were fantastic. Sure, they’re just fries you think, but I love how crispy yet soggy they were. My favorite kind. ❤
And so we moved on to dessert. I honestly did not think I’d be able to eat any more food, but I had to be a soldier and go forth with my sweet treat. I present to you beignets with coffee ice cream. On my first bite, I cut off a piece of the most sugared beignet, took a spoonful of the coffee ice cream and had my first bite of delicious. There’s really no other way to describe it than that. The beignet wasn’t too heavy and the coffee ice cream had great flavor and wasn’t too rich. If I remember correctly, I ate maybe half of it. One serving is definitely enough for two, maybe even three if you’re in a sharing mood, but I guarantee you will fight for that ice cream.
Ray’s Grill also has Sunday brunch from 10:30-2:00. It’s a $20 buffet and I’ve been told by several people that it is excellent and not your typical brunch fare. I’ll be taking the family out there one of these Sundays. I appreciate the fact they are reservation only. My family is fairly big now. When we go somewhere and reservations are not allowed, it’s a pretty long wait to seat 7 people. We don’t have the patience for that when we’re hungry.
Thank you Ray’s for a fabulous dinner. I’ve already told my friends about you and I’m sure we’ll be back, because I’m dying to try that fried macaroni & cheese with lobster and white truffle. ^_^