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A Taste of Thailand with Chiang Mai Pork Patties

Monday, 14. July 2014 5:27

Lemongrass, garlic, shallots and so much more flavor these pork patties.

Lemongrass, garlic, shallots and so much more flavor these pork patties.

 

In summer, we can’t get enough of backyard-grilled burgers.

But for a real treat, think patties of a different sort.

Pork ones, fragrant with a profusion of fresh herbs, and enveloped not in a big bun, but swaddled in a crisp lettuce leaf.

“Chiang Mai Pork Patties” brings a taste of Thailand to you.

The recipe is by cookbook author Naomi Duguid, a Southeast Asian food expert who has traversed Asia to find authentic, traditional dishes. It’s a featured in the new cookbook, “Cooking Light Global Kitchen” (Oxmoor), of which I received a review copy. The cookbook was written by veteran cookbook author David Joachim, whom I’ve had the distinct pleasure of judging the Pillsbury Bake-Off with on a couple of occasions.

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Green Beans with Japanese Flair

Friday, 23. May 2014 5:26

Green beans you won't be able to stop eating.

Green beans you won’t be able to stop eating.

 

Planning a picnic this Memorial Day? Or a backyard barbecue this long weekend?

Then, you’ve got to make these green beans.

I guarantee they will be the talk of the table.

I first made “Green Beans with Miso and Almonds” last Thanksgiving as a novel alternative to the usual green bean casserole. My in-laws couldn’t stop eating it. Each of them kept reaching for seconds, even thirds. Now, whenever my husband sees me trimming fresh green beans from the farmers markets, he secretly hopes they’re destined for this dish.

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A Glutton for Butter Mochi

Wednesday, 21. May 2014 5:25

Butter mochi -- my downfall.

Butter mochi — my downfall.

 

Last week, I gorged myself.

And I blame Chef Jeffrey Stout for it.

You see, after a recent trip to Hawaii, I happened to post a photo on Facebook of a unique sweet treat that I enjoyed there that was quite new to me: butter mochi.

Stout, former chef of Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino who’s now building his own restaurant, Orchard City Kitchen in Campbell, did what any self-respecting chef would do when he spied the photo and sensed my longing — he emailed me a recipe for it.

Curses!

It was far easier to make than I thought it would be. When I tried a piece, I immediately ate a second, then had to restrain myself from reaching for a third.

Chef, what have you done!

The recipe comes from Stout’s neighbor, Taryn Esperas, who has been known to make this for neighborhood block parties, where it’s always one of the first things to be gobbled up.

It’s cake. But not. It’s custard. But not really. It’s sort of its own delightful hybrid.

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Steaming on Mother’s Day

Wednesday, 7. May 2014 5:25

A favorite chicken and Chinese sausage dish that's steamed.

A favorite chicken and Chinese sausage dish that’s steamed.

 

My Mom was never one to really curse or yell.

Even if the occasion might justifiably call for it.

The closest I ever came to hearing her do that was long ago when I was just starting college. My oldest brother had gone out wind-surfing in the Bay as he was wont to do on breezy Sunday afternoons. Only this time, hours after night fell, he still hadn’t returned home. This was long before cell phones, so we could only wait nervously to see if he would show up. My parents grew more anxious as the hours passed. So much so, that I finally felt compelled to summon my nascent journalism skills at that time to call the Coast Guard to inquire if any accidents had happened on the Bay that day.

Of course, right after I hung up the phone, my brother arrived home — safe and sound. Turns out he had decided to go out to dinner afterward with some friends, but neglected to let his family know.

My Mom was relieved, of course. But she let my brother have it in her own way. Never raising her voice, but rather in her usual calm, soft cadence, she called my brother the b-word. You know, the word for a child born out of wedlock, the term so easily thrown around in today’s vernacular that nobody even bats an eye now.

But I never forgot my Mom uttering it. I’m pretty sure my brother never did, either. Because it was so uncharacteristic. And because she never said it again to anyone else, so you know just how upset she must have been to have used it that once.

That was my Mom, though. Always graceful, dignified and composed. Sure, she’d scold us at times for messy rooms or chores undone. But always in that quiet, measured way. Her way.

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The Comfort of Curry

Wednesday, 9. April 2014 5:26

A spice mix not to be without.

A spice mix not to be without.

 

My spice drawer collapseth over.

Try as I might to keep the jars and tins in neat alphabetical order, there are just far too many for all the cuisines dabbled in to do so.

In my parents’ kitchen that I grew up in, though, that never was a problem. Their spice collection snuggled neatly in one metal pan in the cupboard that held barely a dozen in total. Cloves to stud the Easter ham. Cinnamon for baking oatmeal cookies. White pepper to sprinkle into rice porridge. And that all-important jar of curry powder that my Dad would reach for whenever he made lamb curry.

Nowadays, I keep a jar of curry in my pantry for many uses. But when spring hits, I can’t help but think of lamb curry first and foremost as my Dad so often did.

His lamb curry was made in a pressure cooker, the kind that sat on the stovetop with a metal knob screwed into its lid that hissed and whistled like mad. He’d cut up potatoes, carrots and onions and throw them into the pot with chunks of lamb with plenty of chicken stock, some spiky star anise, and a few generous shakes from that curry jar — and let it all bubble away under that locked lid.

Sometimes I’d have no idea what he was making for dinner. But the moment he lifted the lid off that pot, that unmistakable aroma would fill the house, letting me know it was curry lamb night. The fragrance is so recognizable — pungently earthy, musky, even a tad sweet, and with the promise of something a little exotic.

My Dad’s version was golden and brothy — meant to be eaten with mounds of fluffy rice. All it took was one mouthful to warm you deliciously from within.

Tadashi Ono's lamb curry.

Tadashi Ono’s lamb curry.

My husband who is Japanese-American also grew up with curry and rice. But the type he is accustomed to is far more gravy-like. It’s a deep, dark pool of sauce, so thick you can barely discern what’s below until you really dig a fork into it. It’s also delicious. And like the version my Dad used to make, quite tame on the heat spectrum, compared to Indian curries.

In New York Chef Tadashi Ono’s newest cookbook, “Japanese Soul Cooking” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy, is full of home-style dishes, including ramen, tonkatsu, tempura, and donburi. It also includes a curry dish that marries both of the styles my husband and I grew up on. The sauce is a little thinner than what my husband is used to and with a scant more weight than the type I favored as a child.

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