Archive for November, 2010

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 »

November 22nd, 2010

Spicy mayo grilled mackerel

I’m generally reluctant to grill fish, especially without a fish basket, because of the sticking-falling-apart-burnt-outside-raw-inside aspect. But this is a pretty foolproof way to grill: the spicy mayo keeps it from sticking, and grilling fillets instead of whole fish makes it a lot easier to figure out when it’s done. Start to finish this definitely takes 30 minutes or less. Unless you’re having problems with your grill (which I did the night I grilled this. But it made me feel very modern independent woman to fix it.)

Jens made a black-bean bok choy stir fry to go along with it, and he made the spicy mayo. I basically stood over the grill getting fish smoke on me. Recipe after the jump. read more »

November 22nd, 2010

“Quick bread” is a relative term: plum and cardamom sweet bread

I am typing this up as the bread (finally) bakes, and only the delicious smell of orange zest-cardamom-plum wafting through the apartment is keeping me from being cranky. From start to finish the entire process will have taken a little over 3 hours, although admittedly 1 1/2 hours of that is the bread baking.

I also admit that my OCD tendencies extended the active prep time considerably: compulsively checking the recipe to make sure I didn’t confuse “Tbsp” with “tsp” (my first time baking, I made that mistake with almond extract and the cake was ruined), re-reading the instructions (and of course missing the instruction that the eggs should be room temperature), and using a ruler to make sure that the plums were cut to 1/2 inch (where the heck is my cooking ruler?! I had to use my study ruler – another admission, I use a ruler to underline things in textbooks.)

This recipe is from In the Sweet Kitchen by Regan Daley, and it’s the first thing I’ve baked out of this book. I made it at Jens’ request, because he went crazy in the spice aisle and came back with cardamom and a hankering for some cardamom bread. According to Daley:

Cardamom is a wonderful spice, woefully underused in North America…it appears throughout the cuisine of much of Scandinavia as well, especially in many sweet breads and pastries.

I’m not going to write up the recipe because it’s a little involved, but since pretty much only my friends and family read the blog, just let me know if you want the recipe anUpdated I’ll send it over.

Plum Cardamom Bread slice

Update: finally took a picture of the actual bread.

November 14th, 2010

Cookbook Corner: Heavy hitters

My name is Grace, and I’m a cookbook-holic.

I can pretty much only cook from recipes; I find improvisation to be annoying and intimidating (I felt the same way about piano improv). But give me a list of ingredients and a recipe and I’m golden (I was never happier than playing a structured Bach fugue). Also, when I lived alone and worked a lot, one way I would relax was to heat up some desperation food and eat it while reading a cookbook that distracted me from my sad, overworked life.

Jens, on the other hand, is solidly improv, and before we met I don’t think he even owned a cookbook. One of the ways he amused himself back when we lived in separate apartments was to look in my fridge, see what measly ingredients I had, and make something delicious. To me, this is nothing short of wizardry.

I own over 100 cookbooks. But as with brainspace and closets, only a limited percentage of these books are actually used. Here’s a list of 5 of the top-used cookbooks.  I’ll post another 5 later. Note: this is actually quantifiable because when a recipe is made, a “post-it of (dis)approval” is inserted into the book with notes about the recipe.

I’m linking to Amazon for the books so you can get more info, but if you can, please buy from a local independent bookseller! If you’re in the Bay Area, Moe’s Books or Half-Price Books always has used cookbooks in great condition at great prices. Or check out Abe Books to find them used. read more »

November 7th, 2010

Earthy, or grassy? Mushroomy! A guest post from Jens.

This is the dish referred to in this post, made while the butternut squash was roasting in the oven. It’s easy, quick, and delicious. The key is to get good, flavorful mushrooms. I can’t imagine this working with plain white buttons.

Normally after the cookery is done and Jens and I are eating, I do an “interview with the chef” and get a quick rundown of the ingredients and cooking process. This interview is several weeks late, and Jens did most of the writing.

It’s sort of meta to have a guest post by Jens, on a cooking blog that features his cooking. read more »

November 6th, 2010

Jens’ Healthy Restaurant: Quinoa and Chard

Jens: Have you ever encountered a vegetable so flavorful?

He’s referring to Swiss Chard, of course.

The excuse for the scarcity of posts this month is that Jens has been working more than usual and getting dinner at work, so no home cookery has been taking place. (I’ve reverted to my college desperation days of boxed mac and cheese. I have very little motivation to cook for myself, as I can easily – though not healthily – survive on cookies and leftovers.)

So today was the first day in a few weeks that he’s gotten a chance to cook, and he cooked up a storm. For brunch he made a leek-parsley pasta dish inspired by this epicurious recipe. However, the constraints of the recipe were, um, constraining, so for dinner he fully Jens’ed it up with a super healthy concoction using swiss chard, quinoa, radishes, and tomatoes. Super healthy and very delicious!

I still can’t believe that I’m saying things like that. read more »

November 6th, 2010

Weekend cookery: double squash, triple browned soup

The working title for this post was “The Taste of Fall”, but Jens thought it sounded too twee. Actually, I used the word “twee”, I think he just made a face.

Jens: I like recipes that are simple enough that you can just say, “Throw the rest in the pot.”

We also had a delicious wild mushroom pasta dish, post to come soon. Update: post has arrived.
read more »