Monday, December 30, 2013

Meal Plan | Week of 12-29-13

This will be the last meal plan of 2013. Wow, I can't believe it!

Even with the holidays, I've been trying to stay on track with cooking at home. Since I have a couple days off this week, I'm going to go a little "all out," especially with the baking.

I bought my proteins from Sprouts. My CSA is still on break, so I'll be getting my produce from Winder Farms.

Organic Produce Box Items:
3 Apples
2 D'Anjou Pears
4 Kiwi
1 lb of French Fingerling Potatoes
1 Bulb of Fennel
1 Bunch of Carrots
1 Bunch of Broccoli I still have two heads of broccoli from last week, too. Any ideas aside from soup & roasting? Please comment below!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Pumpkin Spoonbread

Photo Credit: Succulent Succotash
Pumpkin Spoonbread - Baked
My eyes have been opened to the world of spoonbread. After I made this basic version, I decided to make a holiday version using pumpkin. 
Photo Credit: Succulent Succotash
Recipe from Bon Appetit Thanksgiving Edition
Here is my adaption for a less savory version of Bon Appetit's pumpkin spoonbread. It's a super moist cross between pumpkin pie & bread pudding. 

  • 2½ cups whole milk
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter 
  • 2 tsp kosher salt 
  • 1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal  
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg I grated my fresh from the nut
  • 1 cup canned pure pumpkin purée Bon App recommends Libby's
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger  
For a sweeter version, add 1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Persimmon Cookies

Photo Credit: Succulent Succotash
A Little Persimmon Cookie
Persimmons are in season in the Fall, so I have been getting the Fuyu variety in my CSA basket every other week.

I like firm and crunchy fruit. So, when my persimmons start getting a little soft, I get a little sad.

About five years ago, a former co-worker told me about how she uses persimmons in bread puddings and cookies. I grew up eating persimmons, but haven't really seen them in baked goods.

With my mushy persimmons, I decided to make cookies for the first time in my life. Enough of the excuses for not baking, I needed an excuse to use my overripe autumnal fruit!

Just a note, persimmon cookies aren't really your idea of cookies. They are more like cookie-shaped muffin tops or non-custardy bread pudding bites. These "cookies" are soft and incredibly moist. They are the perfect bite for this season.

Before I share the recipe for the cookies, you'll need to prep persimmon puree in advance.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Meal Plan | Week of 12-22-13

Photo Credit:
My CSA is on break due to the holidays, so I'll be drawing my cooking inspiration for this week from my impromptu visit to Zion Market today and what I have in my pantry already.

  • Dine out at Pho 21 - spring rolls, pho well-done brisket I usually get rare steak (pho tai), but I was feeling adventurous.
Tuesday - Christmas Eve
Wednesday - Christmas
  • Meat loaf Thanks, Lauren, for the recipe

  • Hot Toddy
  • Ginger, lemon, honey tea
  • Spinach & apple green juice

Do you have any special meal plans for Christmas week? Please comment below.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Cornmeal Spoonbread

Photo Credit: Jane Oh Kim

As you know from a previous post, I've been cooking from a new gluten-free cookbook where I came across this recipe for spoonbread. It has minimal ingredients and I had all of them in my pantry already.

Interestingly, I've never heard of "spoonbread" before. (Blame it on my Southern Californian Asian-American upbringing)

Spoonbread is a moist cornmeal-based dish prevalent in the South. Although named a "bread", it's åcloser in consistency and taste to savory puddings, such as Yorkshire pudding. (Source: Wikipedia)

Below is my execution of Nicole Hunn's original book recipe. I recommend serving it with a savory meat dish with juices or sauce. Or, eat it the next day with some butter, or sweetened with honey or jam.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Oatmeal Banana Bread

Gluten-free Muffins

The baking bug has officially bitten me for the first time in my life. (My sister, now a pastry chef, was the one who baked while growing up.)

I have been feverishly stocking up my pantry with baking essentials, and have been buying in bulk to save money in the long run.

So, what to do with the excessive amount of Bob's Red Mill Gluten-free Quick Cooking Oats from Amazon that I have? Oatmeal Banana Bread! I found this recipe on Bob's website.

Here's what I like about this spin on a classic:
  • It has more texture due to the oats
  • The flavor profile is mild as it doesn't have the usual spices like nutmeg and cinnamon
  • Honey is used as a sweetener that gives it a sticky, caramelized exterior
  • And, of course, it's gluten-free!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Meal Plan | Week of 12-15-13

South Coast Farms CSA | Fall Quarter Week 7
In this week's organic CSA box, I received the following:
  • Baby turnips
  • Radishes
  • Fresh herbs including parsley, cilantro, and dill
  • Oranges They are curiously yellow like lemons
  • Grapefruits
  • Fuyu persimmons
  • Fuji apples 
  • Spinach
  • Arugula
  • Rainbow Chard
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Potatoes I traded in a couple heads of lettuce to double my portion
  • Onion
  • Celery
Recipe Ideas

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Gluten-Free Buttermilk Biscuits

Portioned Buttermilk Biscuits
My friend, Stella, gifted me Gluten-Free on a Shoestring: 125 Easy Recipes for Eating Well on the Cheap by Nicole Hunn for my birthday last month.

What to make for breakfast on a lazy Sunday morning? Buttermilk biscuits! Below is my interpretation of Hunn's gluten-free recipe to make these comforting discs of buttery goodness.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Asian Pickled Salad

Asian Pickles in Mason Jars
I am a fan of all things acidic, tart, and vinegary. This quick pickled Asian Salad is a great compliment to this hearty, salty Asian Braised Pork Shoulder dish. 


For the Salad
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • 1 hothouse cucumber, sliced thinly, preferably on a mandoline
  • 1 medium daikon radish, peeled, sliced in half lengthwise and sliced into thin half-moons, preferably on a mandoline
  • 2 scallions, sliced thinly on the bias

Slow-Cooked Asian Pork Shoulder

Slow-Cooked Asian Pork Shoulder
I've been wanting to use my slow cooker more often as of late. But, to be honest, I am not fond of the traditional "Crock Pot" recipes. I find the traditional flavors of the usual chuck meat, potatoes, celery, carrots, and stock a little blasé.

So, anytime I see an interesting recipe for braised anything, I eagerly try to adapt it to the slow cooker.

On Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, Anne Burrell introduced an Asian version of a braised pork shoulder. Since I've gone gluten-free three months ago, my Asian food options have been limited. So, this was a perfect opportunity to 1) use my slow cooker 2) enjoy Asian flavors 3) try an updated slow cooker recipe.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Gluten-Free Potato Gnocchi

Gluten-Free Potato Gnocchi
I am a huge fan of Gordon Ramsay. My friend, Eugene, introduced me to his UK cooking show "Ultimate Cookery Course." 

I stumbled upon Ramsay's recipe for homemade potato gnocchi. In my great fortune, I had most of the ingredients on hand thanks to my CSA box. Below is my gluten-free adaption of this classic Italian pasta dish.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna
I had spaghetti squash for the first time last year at True Food Kitchen. Their Spaghetti Squash Casserole is a baked pasta dish, without...the pasta. The squash is slightly crunchy mimicking al dente noodles. 

What's great is you don't have to cut or grate the squash to get it this way. When it's cooked, it literally comes out as noodles. You can enjoy it as a pasta replacement.

My friend, Kelly, gave me the idea to bake my CSA winter squash with all the flavors of lasagna. Here's my version of a tasty carb-less Italian casserole:

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash  
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey I used 1.25 lb
  • EVOO
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans (14 oz. each) of diced tomatoes, undrained 
  • Tomato paste, optional I made the mistake of draining the tomatoes, so I added in for flavor & color
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning I used 1/2 tbsp dried oregano & 1/2 tbsp dried basil 
  • 6 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg I took it out when I started cooking to bring it down to room temp
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded I used shredded Parmesan
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Spiced Milk

whole and ground nutmeg
Photo Credit: Glamour Magazine

Cold weather calls for hot drinks with warm spices. Here's a simple recipe that'll help you relax and sleep better, too.

  • Milk of choice I used 2% Broguiere's Farm cow's milk
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground cardamom In an earlier post, I shared how to use them fresh from whole pods
  • Ground nutmeg Just grate the whole "seed" over a microplane or fine grater
  • Sweetener of choice such as agave or honey I used this thick, raw honey
  1. Heat milk via desired method (stovetop, microwave, steamer/frother) I love using my Nespresso Aeroccino. Thanks for the gift, Esther!
  2. Sprinkle spices into heat resistant cup to taste
  3. Pour milk into cup, then stir
  4. Add sweetener of choice, then stir
  5. Enjoy!
In the words of Ina Garten, how easy is that?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

How to Use Whole Cardamom

Whole Cardamom

It's a well-known fact that whole spices are superior to pre-ground ones because powdered spices can go stale quicker. When you grind spices immediately prior to use, you enjoy the benefits of fuller, fresher aroma.

Want to take it to a whole 'nother level? Toast whole spices on a sauté pan or baking sheet prior to grinding. It's similar to toasting nuts prior to use. It releases more flavor.

Even though working with whole spices is slightly inconvenient, the pay off is worth it.

I recently learned that warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg (especially), and cardamom can promote relaxation and sleep. If you are (East) Asian-American like me, these spices might be foreign to you. But, if you enjoy Chai tea, you will like these spices.

Last week, after dining in Brea Downtown, my husband and I popped into World Market to browse. Coincidentally, they were having specials on spices. Score!

I have to admit, I did not know what to do with the whole cardamom. Let alone, it was my first time actually seeing it in person. So, I searched to Google for answers.

In a (nut)shell, you need to separate the cardamom seeds from the outer layer.

Here's how I made fresh, ground cardamom at home:

  • Place cardamom pods on parchment paper Only grind what you need
  • Fold paper over to cover pods and go over with rolling pin You won't need to use much pressure
  • Separate shells from seeds
  • Place seeds in spice grinder or mortar I used my Magic Bullet
  • Grind until you get a fine, even texture
Enjoy in spiced teas or milks, baking, and cooking.

How do you use cardamom? Please comment below.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Meal Plan | Week of 11-27-13 & 12-1-13

South Coast Farms CSA Fall Basket
I must confess I've been MIA for the last month as I was celebrating a milestone birthday and, unfortunately and unrelated, I have been experiencing more-than-the-usual migraines (read, sleeping 10-12+ hours a day to cope). 

Now that I'm back in the groove of the daily grind, I'm feeling extra motivated to empty my overly-stocked fridge full of organic CSA produce and items from my usual grocery runs.

To make up for it, here are meal plan for two weeks.