linguine in katsuo nori furikake carbonara sauce


Since making the breakfast baozi the other day I have discovered the wonderful umami flavor of katsuo nori furikake. The sauce is hardly complicated. First I made a roux then whisked in a cup and a half of warm milk. I added about two tablespoons furikake and two teaspoons of soy sauce, a bit of salt and several twists of cracked pepper. To the sauce I added the cooked linguine with blanched sugar snap peas, stir-fried carrots and sweet pepper, and some shredded cooked chicken. That’s it. My take on carbonara sauce!

At Paolo’s

Actually this is Mamma Mia’s in Salaya but the place owes a lot to Paolo’s personality. He’s a great host. For a month, Andy and I noshed on the Antipasto Italiano but today we decided to move on. We ordered the Mamma Mia Salad with Italian Dressing, Salmon Spaghetti, and Mushroom Risotto–with our usual glass of house red. DSC04117

bolivian spiced grilled pork cutlets with split peas

Now that Andy is here in New York, I am determined to make sure he eats healthy. Living on his own in Bangkok has led to all sorts of unhealthy eating habits–like eating ham hocks. I brought my South Beach Diet cookbooks when I came back from Bangkok in January, so I looked up interesting Phase One recipes. This one, to my astonishment, included a ham hock and pork loin chops. I decided I would make it without ham hock and pork chop. Though I knew that I could use lean pork tenderloin instead of pork chops there is absolutely no substitute for the meaty smoky flavor of the ham hock.  I had read about the concept of umami sometimes called the “fifth taste” that rounds out the four basic tastes: bitter, sour, sweet, and salty. Umami is savory. I decided to add powdered dry porcini mushrooms because it has an earthy savory flavor. To get back the smokiness I added a few generous twists of Trader Joe’s South African Smoke Seasoning Blend. It was perfect.

bolivian spiced grilled pork cutlets with split peas

Bolivian Spiced Grilled Pork Cutlets with Split Peas

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 60 minutes

Split Peas
2 1/2 tablespoons EVOO
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large onion, chopped fine
1 parsnip, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon powdered dried porcini mushrooms
1 bay leaf
Trader Joe’s South African Smoke Seasoning Blend
1 1/4 cup split peas, rinsed

Pork Cutlets
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
3 teaspoons ground cardamom
3 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
zest of 1 lemon (about 3 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper

1 pork tenderloin trimmed of fat and silver and cut into eighths

Make the split peas: In a medium saucepan over medium low heat, heat the olive oil. When it is hot, add the onion, celery, and parsnip. When it starts to sizzle, add the garlic. Cook until the vegetables become softened, about 3 minutes. Add the pepper flakes and cumin. Stir and add the chicken broth, umami, peas, bay leaf, and the Smoke. Let it come to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and cook about 45 minutes or until the peas are tender. Remove the bay leaf and discard.

Make the pork cutlets: In a small bowl, combine the cumin, cardamom, coriander, pepper flakes, lemon zest, salt and pepper.  Pound each cutlet flat, about 1 inch 1/2 inch thickness. With your fingers, work a half teaspoon of the rub onto each side of one cutlet. Put the cutlet aside on a plate and repeat with the rest of the cutlets.

I grilled the cutlets in 3 batches for 4 minutes per batch in the George Foreman grill. Alternatively, you can cook the cutlets in a skillet sprayed with cooking spray until done. The cutlets are cooked when they reach an internal temperature of 165˚F. I served these cutlets with the split peas, Tennessee-style cole slaw, and tomato-avocado salsa.

grilled salmon in teriyaki marinade with mirin

grilled salmon in teriyaki marinade with mirin

新年快乐 xin nian kuai le! Happy Chinese New Year!

If we were in Thailand, the Chinese community would celebrate new year’s eve (Saturday) sampling  every kind of meat to ensure that in the coming year, no one goes hungry. For millenia, the Chinese have been obsessed with food, and I admit that’s one thing I’ve inherited. Perhaps that’s one reason why I blog about food! I certainly spend most of my budget on food. And having salmon (@7.00 per pound) on such a special occasion is indeed a splurge.

I found this on Simply Recipes–I was looking for something quick and easy, of course.There were four marinades but I chose this one because of the flavors: ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and mirin. You can’t go wrong with these. I’ve adjusted the measurements to taste.

Grilled Salmon in Teriyaki Marinade with Mirin

1 1/2 pounds salmon fillets
1/4-1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 mirin or seasoned rice vinegar
2 heaping tablespoons brown sugar
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 inch ginger, zested
1 scallion minced fine
2 tablespoons canola oil
Red pepper flakes, optional
Cooking spray

Wash and pat dry the fillets with paper towels. Slice each fillet into 1 1/2 inch strips by following the grain. I got 6 strips from 1 1/2 pounds of salmon fillets. Set aside. Prepare a shallow baking tray by covering it with a thick layer of aluminum foil. Spray with cooking spray. This will make clean up easier. Set aside the baking tray.

Put the rest of the ingredients into a large bowl or a shallow pan. Dip the salmon strips in the marinade, turning to coat thoroughly. Let stand in the marinade 20 minutes. Put the strips on the prepared tray skin side up.

You can grill these strips on a barbecue or simply broil them as I did. It took 3 minutes in my broiler to blacken the skin to a delicate crisp. Gently turn the fillets and broil for an additional minute.

I served the grilled salmon with coconut kale and green bean medley. The green bean medley is an old favorite from the Betty Crocker cookbook. I’ve forgotten the exact recipe and I now make it with whatever I have on hand. This time around, I’m using the method I used to cook the baby bok choy last night.

Green Bean Medley

1 pound green beans, trimmed
1 pound small carrots, sliced diagonally
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cup of baby bella mushrooms (can use shiitake or button mushrooms)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch piece of ginger, zested
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 teaspoons oil

Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the garlic, onions,  and ginger and cook until fragrant. Add enough chicken stock to cover the bottom of the pan, scraping up the bits of garlic and ginger. Cook the carrots first. After a minute, add the  green beans and the mushrooms. Cook until tender, about 3 minutes.

a low carb dinner, featuring baby bok choy with garlic and roasted brussels sprouts

tilapia, baby bok choy, brussels sprouts, avocado-tomato salsa

It’s the day after the terrible snowstorm, named Nemo by the Weather Channel. I won’t say anything about clownfish because just about every other blogger is probably saying the same thing. I will say that I had thought I could get through this winter without a pair of rubber boots, but it looks like my Dansko clogs just aren’t high enough to wade through the slush at the curbs on Broadway. The wind was pretty high; walking uptown the wind was pushing me along the sidewalk. I didn’t think I was such a lightweight after all since my indulgences in Thailand are still lingering about my waist.

Tonight’s menu consisted of a lightly breaded grilled tilapia with tomato-avocado salsa, baby bok choy with garlic, and roasted brussels sprouts in balsamic vinaigrette. The whole meal required delicate orchestration because it cooked up so fast. I started with the brussels sprouts because it takes 20-25 minutes for my oven to reach 475˚F. The roasted brussels sprouts are definitely vegetarian, but with the substitution of vegetable broth, the baby bok choy can become vegan in an instant.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar (adapted from Kitchen Window)

1 pound Brussels sprouts, small to medium size
Olive oil
2 to 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (substitute Chinese black vinegar)
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 475 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.

Trim the stalk end of the Brussels sprouts. Chop the sprouts into thirds or quarters and put them in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and salt to taste.

Spread the seasoned sprouts on the prepared baking tray. Cover tightly with another sheet of foil. Roast, covered, 10-15 minutes or until the sprouts turn yellow-green on the insides. Take off the foil.

Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar. Now, I didn’t have either balsamic vinegar or the Chinese black vinegar on hand (note: must go to Chinatown) so I used balsamic vinaigrette. It’s not as strong so I was generous.

Return the sprouts to the oven and roast uncovered 5 minutes. Check to see if the sprouts are browning. If not, give them an additional 5 minutes and up to 20 additional minutes. Serve with several twists of Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning–or fresh ground black pepper. Serve at once.

Well, I hadn’t counted on the sprouts cooking up so quickly so they had to sit out on the stove top while I finished up the baby bok choy. This is a recipe based on one I found on

Baby Bok Choy with Garlic

4 baby bok choy
5 large cloves garlic, minced fine
2 teaspoons oil, plus a little more, if needed
1/4-1/2 cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
Salt and pepper to taste (or fish sauce or white soy sauce)

Wash the baby bok choy well, especially the stem ends. Lightly trim the stem.

Heat the oil in a 10 inch skillet. Add the garlic and lightly brown. If the garlic sticks to the pan, add a little more oil. Pour in the chicken broth, enough to cover the bottom of the skillet. Add the bok choy and reduce the heat to simmer. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the bok choy is tender and turns a bright green.

Salt and pepper to taste. Instead of salt and pepper, use a dash of fish sauce for flavor; white soy sauce is good too, as neither will color the bok choy like regular soy sauce.

Watch the bok choy, because it cooks up very quickly. Scoop up some of the garlic in the pan and spoon it over the bok choy. Serve at once.

• Zest a 1-inch piece of ginger (cut a 2 inch piece to save your fingers) and add it to the garlic in the pan.

Avocado-Tomato Salsa

2 ripe avocados
6 grape tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
1 scallion minced
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste

Scoop out the avocados into a small bowl and mash with a fork. Add the tomatoes, cilantro,  scallion, and lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.

I served the salsa as an accompaniment to the tilapia.

Lightly Breaded Grilled Tilapia

2 tilapia fillets, rinsed and patted dry
1 egg white
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (can be seasoned Italian style or make your own herb seasoning)
Salt and pepper to taste

Dip each fillet in the egg white then dredge in the crumbs. I grilled these in my little George Foreman grill, about 5 minutes per fillet.

casuyon chicken menudo pie

Casuyon Chicken Menudo Pie (adapted from a recipe by Claire Casuyon’s Mom)
If you subtract the pie crust, bacon and leeks you have Menudo, Filipino style. Either one is a great dish, very easy to make for a Sunday supper with an accompaniment of a simple salad of fresh greens and grape tomatoes.

2 slices smoked bacon, chopped
3 cups leeks, sliced thin (about 2 leeks)
1 smashed garlic clove
1 tablespoon canola oil, optional
4 inch ginger root, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
4 boneless skinless thighs, trimmed of visible fat and chopped into 2 inch chunks
2 boneless skinless breasts, halved into 1 inch thick fillets and sliced into 2 inch chunks
1 1/2 cups red potato, peeled and chopped into 1 inch chunks
1 cups baby carrots (1/2 bag of baby carrots), sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
2 cans of tomato sauce (preferably Hunts)
1 bay leaf
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Menudo Seasoning, or to taste

Menudo Seasoning (from The Cook’s Thesaurus)
Combine two parts oregano, two parts onion flakes or powder, one part crushed coriander seed, one part cumin, and one part crushed red chili pepper. Store in a jar.

1/2 package of frozen puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator
1 tablespoon fat free milk
1 large egg white

  1. In a dutch oven, cook bacon over medium high heat until brown and crisp. Then sauté leeks and garlic with the bacon and fat until slightly soft; if necessary add more oil. Add ginger and sauté for 2 more minutes.
    Add chicken thighs and stirfry. Reduce heat to medium. Let the meat cook until the outside turns white, stirring frequently. Add salt and pepper for taste.
  2. Stir in two cans of tomato sauce and the bay leaf. Add water if the sauce seems too thick, then let sauce simmer for 15 minutes. Add menudo seasoning. If a stronger, thicker tomato sauce is desired, add the tomato paste.
    Preheat oven to 450˚F.
  3. Add chicken breasts, carrots, potatoes and bay leaf. Cover and let simmer until chicken is cooked and veggies are soft, about 20-25 minutes. Stir every 2-3 minutes. Add the peas. Adjust seasoning.
    Pour meat and vegetables into a 9.5 inch pie plate.
  4. Roll out pie crust onto a well-floured board so that there is an inch overhang. Loosely roll up the pie crust onto the rolling pin and roll it out on top of the meat and vegetables. Tuck the edges under on the rim of the pie plate. Either pinch the edges between thumb and forefinger or crimp with a fork. Mix water and egg white together and brush the top with the mixture. Poke the top with a knife to make slits or use the tines of a  fork to make vents. Bake 20-30 minutes or until the crust is golden. Remove the pie from the oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.
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pressed tofu with garlic mint sauce

After all my dietary sins this week, I atoned for it with this meal. I felt quite virtuous about it, too; a good Catholic enjoys doing penance. The tofu was quite tasty–slightly lemon-y, mint-y, and garlic-y.  It’s a tad redder than it should be because I got over-enthusiastic with the paprika. Nevertheless,  I enjoyed the garlic mint sauce, but I would ramp up the flavors, as I have noted in the recipe. I like to follow a recipe exactly the first time I try it, but I was a bit alarmed by the directions in the original. It said to press the tofu  while it was cooking by weighting it down with another skillet and a large can of tomatoes. My top skillet got hot and I worried about heating an unopened can of tomatoes. It’s far safer to press the tofu before cooking, so I’ve given directions how to do this.

Pressed Tofu with Garlic Mint Sauce


2 packs firm tofu, cut into 3/4 inch slices
4-6 cloves garlic
1 1/2 -2 teaspoons salt
1/4 – 1/2 cup mint leaves, chopped
lemon zest from 1 lemon
3 tbs lemon juice (half a lemon)
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 cup vegetable broth


1. In a large bowl or dish, make the marinade. First, mash garlic and salt together into a paste. Combine with mint, lemon zest, lemon juice, paprika, and 1/2 cup vegetable broth and mix. Set aside.

2. Cover a large rimmed baking sheet with 2 layers of paper towels and place tofu in a single layer on top. Cover the tofu with more paper towels. Place another large rimmed baking sheet on top of the paper towels. Weight down the baking sheet with canned goods or books or both. Let sit for 20 minutes until tofu slices are flattened and the paper towels are soaked.

3. Place tofu slices into marinade, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

4. Spray a large skillet with cooking spray. Heat skillet on medium.  Gently shake tofu slices to shake off excess marinade, and place them in the pan to brown, about 4 minutes per side. You may need to do this in batches. Save the marinade.

5. After you remove the last batch of tofu, add the reserved marinade and the remaining 1/2 cup vegetable broth. Scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Simmer until the sauce is reduced by one third. Pour garlic-mint sauce over the tofu slices. Serve with hot rice and eat Chinese-style with chopsticks!

central park challenge and a simple supper

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A fine mizzle was falling across Central Park when we arrived in the early morning for the YAI Central Park Challenge. We had signed  up for the 3K walk through the park. The meeting point was at 72nd and Central Park West but we saw no signs. Everyone was going into the park so we just followed everyone in until we saw the tents. Not long afterwards, the sun came out. It was a beautiful day–cool and sunny. I thought how two weeks ago we saw the park as a resource fit for the dinner table. Today, the park was a green oasis in the city for exercising, for having fun, and relaxation. And so, to cap an active day, we had a simple supper of homemade vegetable soup with chicken and ham, and romaine hearts with grape tomatoes served with Hugo’s sushi vinegar dressing. The dressing is mild and slightly tart. Simply delicious.

Hugo’s Sushi Vinegar Dressing

2 parts sushi vinegar
1 part extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dried basil

coconut kale with filipino garlic fried rice

Taranee pointed out this recipe to me because it’s quick and easy to make for a weeknight supper. I jazzed it up by adding her coconut kale to it, not that it needed it, but I’m not cooking as much and I need to move some of those vegetables before they spoil! The kale added just the right color to complement the eggs, and were satisfyingly chewy, coconut-flavored, and spicy. I also used up some leftover rice. Fried rice is good for that. This recipe was lightly garlicky, chewy;  a nice contrast between the slightly bitter kale, the bland eggs, crunchy green onions,  and al dente rice.

Coconut Kale with Filipino Garlic Fried Rice (adapted from The Kitchn)

Serves 4

2 teaspoons butter (optional; can also use vegetable oil)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 large eggs
Salt and pepper
12 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 whole head of garlic, depending on the size)
4 cups cooked long­ grain brown-and-white rice (ratio 2:1)
4 cups kale, trimmed and chopped coarsely
1 tablespoon coconut oil
red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon soy sauce or fish sauce, to taste
2 green onions, chopped

Heat 2 teaspoons of butter or oil in a large skillet over moderate heat. Beat the eggs with a dash of salt and pepper. Pour them into the pan and cook until the center is set. Roll up the omelet with a spatula. Turn the omelet out onto a plate and set aside. When it is cool enough to handle, cut it into strips about 1/4­inch wide x 2­ or 3­inches long.

Using the same pan or a separate wok, if you prefer, heat a tablespoon of oil over moderate heat and add the minced garlic. Fry the garlic, stirring constantly to prevent it from burning. When the garlic is crispy and golden, remove it from the pan (leaving the garlicky oil in the pan) and set aside.

In the same wok or skillet, heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil until it just becomes fragrant. Add the kale and stir fry until it becomes wilted and turns a bright green. Sprinkle a little red pepper flakes all over and toss.

Stir in the rice. Make sure all the rice is coated with oil and then spread it across the pan in an even layer. Cook for a couple of minutes, then stir and repeat this process until the rice is heated through.

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of soy sauce or fish sauce into the rice, toss and taste, adding more if needed. Remove from heat. Serve the rice garnished with egg strips, scallions, a little more red pepper flakes, if desired, and the fried garlic.

gai yang roulade with corn grits

Sometimes food gets boring. Every night it becomes the same old, same old. So I tried spicing up a chicken fillet by rolling it. So revolutionary. Here’s a chicken breast fillet rolled up in a gai yang marinade adapted from an America’s Test Kitchen recipe.

First  brine 3 boneless skinless chicken breast fillets in 2 tablespoons salt and 2 tablespoons sugar dissolved in 4 cups water 30-60 minutes. Slice each breast in half horizontally and pat dry. Place each fillet between two sheets of plastic and pound each one to 1/4 inch thickness. In a large bowl combine

  • 12 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (1/4 cup)
  • 1 piece fresh ginger (about 2 inches), minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup lime juice from 2 to 3 limes
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce, optional
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat the oven 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Marinate the fillets in the garlic-ginger mixture for at least 30 minutes. Scrape most of the marinade from one side and paste in the center. Roll up around the garlic-ginger paste and place seam side down on prepared baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes or until the inside of each roulade measures 160˚F on an instant read thermometer. Remove from oven and slice into pinwheels.

Serve with yellow corn grits. So simple! This recipe is from Zea Rotisserie and Brewery.

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup yellow corn grits
  • 1/2 pound butter
  • 1/2-1  tablespoon salt or to taste (use more or less salt depending on whether the butter was salted)
  • 1 ear grilled corn, kernels removed

Strip off most of the husk and silk. Soak in water to cover 15 minutes. If you don’t have a grill, broil the corn in the broiler for 15 minutes or until the kernels turn brown. Set aside to cool

Bring liquids to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in the grits. Add butter and salt. Cook at simmer until thickened, about 10-15 minutes. Cut the corn off the cooled cob, and crumble in your fingers. At the end of cooking, stir in the corn.