December 23rd, 2011

Edible ivory

Another shout-out to Costco: white asparagus, aka “edible ivory”, actually affordable! Apparently white asparagus is more widely available in Europe; Jens works with someone who was weirded out by the green asparagus stateside.

This is a very simple recipe, other than the elbow grease that goes into hand-whisking the homemade mayonnaise. It comes together in about 30 minutes, and is very fresh-tasting while also being totally rich and delicious. It’s so simple, in fact, that you don’t even need to go beyond a jump to get to the recipe.


  1. Get a pot of water boiling for the pasta (remember the tip from French Cooking in 10 Minutes?)
  2. Make the homemade mayonnaise: good extra virgin olive oil from farmer’s market stand (greek olive oil used here, EVOO is the reason the mayo is green-ish), eggs, dijon or whole grain mustard, vinegar. Whisk vigorously while adding EVOO bit by bit until it reaches the right consistency. Where are the amounts, you ask? Good question (I say as I look pointedly at the chef.) He did this all to taste and forgets the exact amounts, but you can use this recipe from Bon Apetit as a guideline. You can also make this in a tall, narrow container using an immersion blender.
  3. Boil the asparagus until tender – the time will vary depending on the thickness of the stems.
  4. At the same time, cook the pasta (Barilla spaghetti in this case, I like the slightly ridged texture as it gives it a good toothsome bite.) Reserve a few tablespoons of the pasta water.
  5. Once the pasta is almost done, fry up some eggs, sunny-side up.
  6. Slice up lemon wedges. Plate everything, dollop some mayo on the pasta, thin it out with some pasta water if it’s too thick and serve some extra table-side in case people want to make it even richer. Your call whether you want to dribble the yolk on your pasta or the asparagus. Eat asparagus with fingers. Yum.
December 18th, 2011

I love the smell of cold brew in the morning

The apparatus

Toddy Cold Brew SystemWhat $20 worth of coffee grounds looks like*if you click on the photos, it will do an in-line lightbox slideshow of all three photos

Here at FFTF, cold brew doesn’t refer to alcohol, but rather a coffee brewing method. I have two mutually exclusive long-standing problems:

1) chronic gastroesophageal acid reflux disease (GERD, or “ARGH” as I fondly refer to it); and

2) an on-again, off-again, love-you, hate-you relationship with coffee.

You may already know this, but coffee (and chocolate, alcohol, fatty/fried foods, garlic, onions, spicy foods, tomato-based foods – basically anything delicious) can worsen reflux symptoms. And indeed, whenever my reflux symptoms worsen, usually due to stress, if I cut out coffee and alcohol things improve.

Not drinking alcohol is easy. Not drinking coffee? When, for the past several years, I’ve had high-stress jobs with long, unpredictable hours (a line from the job description)? Or, for the past six months when I’ve been a grad student taking the max class load? Nigh unto impossible.

This is where cold brew coffee comes in. Because cold brew uses lower temperatures to extract the flavor from the beans, the resulting drink can be up to 2/3 less acidic. Since I’m not a huge coffee nut (I can’t perceive “notes of blueberry and bark” if my life depended on it) this is the primary draw. Other coffee enthusiasts (“snobs” depending on your POV) also claim that this method produces a smoother, less bitter, more nuanced beverage. Others say that “it lacks the body and complexity of flavor” that hot brew methods produce. I’m willing to compromise a bit on complexity if it means that acid stays in my stomach where it belongs, and not in my throat.

A few places near me produce excellent cold brew, like Cafecito Organico and La Mill. However, at almost $5 a pop, this is an expensive habit, and most places only do cold brew for iced drinks, so if it’s cold and I want a hot drink I’m throwing the dice with my reflux. So I recently bought a cold brew system, the Toddy T2N, bought some Bliss Espresso beans from La Mill on the barista’s recommendation (supposedly they use the espresso roast to make their cold brew), found an excellent pictorial walk-through since the manual instructions were rather minimalist, and gave it a go.

For details about the results, read more »

November 17th, 2011

Creamy Avocado Saffron Papardelle


Inspired by this recipe and an abundance of saffron courtesy of Costco, Jens came up with this recipe. It’s great because you get a creamy sauce without the heaviness of cream. There’s also something really decadent about having a saffron-flavored dish on a weeknight. Seriously, if you ever see saffron on sale at Costco, snap it up. It’s so much cheaper than buying almost anywhere else (6 strands at a time? No thanks.) I’m also amused by how very serious the “Kirkland signature” saffron is. From the package:

“The Consejo Regulador, recognized by the EU, guarantees the consumer that saffron with the DO La Mancha seal is authentic. The numbered label on the jar, supplied only by the COnsejo Regulador, guarantees that this saffron has been grown, harvested, and packed in La Mancha and that it is the highest quality available.”

/end Costco fangirl rant.

For the recipe, read more »

November 17th, 2011

Maximum healthy, minimal dishes

After explaining the recipe to me, Jens gave a monologue about “maximum implementation, minimal implements.” He really likes minimizing the amount of dirtied utensils. I actually have gotten very exasperated at him as he strategizes about dishes and said, “Just dirty another butter knife, I’m the one who does the dishes and I don’t care!”

So as a preface to this dish, he wants to point out that if you plan ahead, all you’ll be dirtying is: 1 non-stick pan, 1 cutting board, 1 knife, 2 bowls (that you’ll be using to reserve things and eat from), 1 spatula, and 2 spoons. He’s sitting across from me looking very pleased with himself.

This feels very healthy. It’s tasty, but not mind-blowing, but I thought I’d post it anyway because maybe someone will have suggestions on how to improve it. I actually prefer it when blogs post things that aren’t perfect-awesome-mindblowing because it makes them more approachable rather than aspirational.

Jens claims it’s sort of Chinese but I pointed out to him that A) Chinese people usually eat white rice and B) brussels sprouts don’t seem very Chinese to me. I guess if you think of them as stand-ins for Napa cabbage?

For the recipe, read more »

December 23rd, 2010

Some other fridge: Manila Machine

I finally tried Manila Machine, a Filipino food truck that has been on my to-eat list since they opened. Here’s a review. Sorry about the lack of food photos—we were both so hungry that we had devoured the food before we even thought to take photos. If any of the words look unfamiliar, you can mouseover if it’s underlined and a quick definition will pop up. You’re welcome. 🙂

Longanisa slider
Pacquiao special (sisig egg sandwich)
Sisig (good but definitely much improved with the addition of sriracha)
Veggie lumpia shanghai
Spam slider
Manila dipper
2 ube cupcakes (so good and actually tasted like ube!)


Tasty. But heavy. I incorrectly sold Jens on this outing by speculating that it would probably be lighter than regular Filipino food since it’s second-gen. I was wrong. Fried egg and fried meats and bread = well-worth-it food coma. However, Jens pointed out that we actually spent more money than if we had gone down the street to the point-point joint. It’s by no means expensive, but just a heads up that it’s not as cheap as what some of us might be used to for Filipino food ($6 for a two-item combo with rice? Yeah.)

Overall I really liked it, but part of that is because I like food adventures. Did you know one theory about ADHD is that it’s actually adaptive in hunter-gatherer societies, but maladaptive in agricultural societies? So stalking and hunting street food makes me feel like I’m an extraordinarily gifted hunter-gatherer.

December 1st, 2010

This is what tradition looks like

In the last post I mentioned how someone asked me if my family does a “traditional Thanksgiving”, and coded in that question is the normalization of Anglo-American traditions. My family’s Thanksgiving feels pretty traditional American to me, even though we don’t have turkey or cranberry sauce, and we eat more rice than mashed potatoes.

So here’s another peek at what tradition can look like: the revived day-after-Thanksgiving leftover party at my friend’s house! We’ve been doing this for years, except for last year when my friend betrayed us all by spending Thanksgiving on the East Coast. Well, the West Coast won and she’s moved back so that damn well better be the last time we miss this tradition (I’m looking meaningfully at you, friend!)

My friend is Taiwanese and her mom, who provided almost the entire feast below, is an AMAZING cook. The stars of this tradition:

  • Sticky rice turkey stuffing: if you’ve ever had this, do you not agree that it’s GREAT?
  • Duck noodle soup
  • Rice porridge cooked in homemade turkey stock garnished with leftover turkey meat: so much umami how do they do it!
  • Taiwanese ham salad (this isn’t actually called that. Hopefully my friend will volunteer the actual transliterated names in the comments section, hint hint.)
  • PIES! So many many pies, varies each year. My sister brought over her homemade pies from Thanksgiving. I usually bring a pie from House of Pies but didn’t this year because I was told there would be plenty. Plus a homemade coffee cheesecake brought by another attendee of this tradition. It looked so professional and tasted so amazing that we all teased her that she bought it from a bakery and paid extra for them to put it in an unmarked cake box.
  • Sliced oranges (very Taiwanese after-dinner item)
  • And of course, ROCK BAND! (courtesy of another friend and her roadie boyfriend, who does the quickest drum setup I’ve seen)

This year we also had cheese biscuits (leftovers from my family’s Thanksgiving) and Costco holiday cookies (so good, and it turns out that my friend likes the exact ones that I don’t! The synergy, it is too awesome).

To the usual suspects who were missing this year, hope this serves as a lure for your appearance next year. You were missed!

November 27th, 2010

Thankful for food and the family that makes the food

pumpkin pie

Apple pie

Trying a new thing here – multiple photos in a post! If you click on any of the photos it’ll pop up to full size and then you can scroll through (the > arrow will show up when you mouseover) to see the other photos in this post.

We went to two Thanksgivings today. For lunch we went to a potluck with Jens’ friends hosted by a very awesome coworker of his. Lots of delicious food but unfortunately I was too busy stuffing my face and playing with a cute baby to remember to take photos.

Then we went to my parents’ house for dinner, where my younger sisters were cooking up a storm. The menu there was:


  • Roasted horseradish root vegetables (this is what Jens made to bring, and the recipe is after the jump. It went really well with the roast.)
  • Fennel avocado salad (we also brought this. Only my mom really ate more than a few bites. The others aren’t really into fennel. And apparently my dad is not a fan of coriander, which was in the dressing.)
  • Pumpkin pie (recipe courtesy of Cook’s Illustrated, baked by sister)
  • Apple pie (also baked by sister)

Not pictured:

  • 2-rib roast (humanely raised beef, choice, from Whole Foods. $12.99/lb. It’s been my job the past two years to bring the meat, then my family roasts it. I keep meaning to order from a farmer’s market stall but procrastinated too long and had to go to Whole Foods.)
  • Mushroom gravy
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Green beans and other assorted steamed/boiled vegetables
  • Stuffing (I have no idea what kind. It’s the kind they’ve made the last few years in a row.Edit: apparently I am very wrong on this point. The stuffing was new, and consisted of made-from-scratch cornbread plumped with turkey broth, dried cranberries, Arkansas Black apples, and spicy sausage. In my defense, I remember asking if the stuffing was different and someone at the table claimed it was the same as last year’s. Obviously that source was mistaken.
  • Steamed rice
  • Cheese biscuits (very flaky and cheesy, but not the Red-Lobster style ones that my sister usually makes, which I love unreservedly.)

Someone asked me the other day if my family does a “traditional Thanksgiving.” I gave them a blank look and said, “We have rice because we’re Asian and prime rib instead of turkey because nobody likes turkey. But that’s traditional for us, so I guess the answer is yes.”

So whatever your traditions are I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

For the horseradish root vegetable roast, read more »