Friday, March 30, 2012

Candied Sweet Potatoes by Elizabeth Andoh

(Part of a weekly series by a group of bloggers, featuring Gourmet Live's 50 Women Game Changers in Food - see end of post for list of bloggers participating & their blogs)

I know I'm not a child, but, I unconsciously went into my own mode of Spring Break - ending up with a Blog Break. I haven't blogged in over a week and somehow it was good to take that break. I did miss blogging and not catching up on a lot of my favorite blogs. I will be getting to all of them this weekend and I apologize for not being there all this while. I did something for my blog during this period though - I bought my own domain name! :D It's not a big deal but it felt like my home got a face lift. And over the next week or so, I'll be tweaking some design stuff too. But next week's going to extremely busy, with Easter coming up and a lot of choir commitments during Holy week, so let's see. It's going to be fun!

Source: The Japan Times
For now, I'm getting back to my blog with the 50 Women Game Changers Series and we have one of the culinary world's leading experts in Japanese cuisine at #41 - Elizabeth Andoh. Though she's not of Japanese heritage, Elizabeth's heart and home have found their place in Japan for over 4 decades now. How she ended up in Japan happens to be a "happy accident" as she puts it. She was born in America, grew up here and studied in New York and the University of Michigan. While she was a student here, she learned of this unclaimed scholarship to Japan and took it thinking it would be interesting. So, in the mid 60s, she landed in Shikoku in rural Japan, where she later met the love of her life. Overcoming the initial cultural shock, she grew to love the place and all of Japanese culture and food. She learnt a lot from the Andoh family during her initial years - Senior Mr Andoh was the one who first took interest in teaching young Elizabeth how to speak Japanese and his wife was an inspiration when it came to food and matters of the kitchen. Her mother-in-law was a vegetarian much like the people born in the late 19th and early 20th century in Japan - Elizabeth later dedicated a book on Kansha cooking, inspired by this. 

Having developed a deep interest in the philosophy and art of Japanese cuisine, Elizabeth enrolled at the Yanagihara School of Traditional Japanese Cuisine in Tokyo. Shortly after, she launched her own culinary arts program in 1972, called A Taste of Culture. The program hosts tasting sessions, market tours, cooking classes and workshops for foreign tourists and expats who are interested to learn the intricacies of Japanese food and cuisine. She has since been the greatest advocate for Japanese cuisine among english speaking chefs and cooks.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Rum Raisin Rice Pudding

There are now two things I love from Ireland - Boyzone (yes, the boyband...stop shaking your head!) and this super-awesome rum raisin rice pudding I discovered on the St. Patrick's Day menu suggested by Food Network. What's even better about this rice pudding? It's by Ina Garten. That means automatic inclusion in my book of favorites.

Since we just passed St. Paddy's Day, I decided to partake in some Irish edible goodies with a side of Boyzone for a mini Irish weekend. You're not allowed to judge. Or else, I'll throw a Ronan Keating doll at you. Not that I own one. But, I will carve one out of a potato for said task. That'll make it an authentic Irish doll. Ha! *cough* Really bad joke.

I must tell you about my history with Boyzone though, since they were one of my first few celebrity crushes (not counting this Indian actor who I told my mom I wanted to hug when I was 8 or 9 years old). I don't like any of their recent songs but, I still love the albums they released in the late 90s and early 2000s because I spent days and nights obsessing over them. Listening to them now brings back memories from my teen years and I can't help but laugh. My brother would go round the bend when I used to listen to them since he hated boybands and Pop in general. He'd make fun of them all the time and say mean things. You know how I've got my revenge? A lot of people say HIS 3-month old son looks like ME when I was a baby. Mwahahaha But, obviously this is good news for my nephew since he's inherited my good looks. ;)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Jam Thumbprint Cookies by Ina Garten

(Part of a weekly series by a group of bloggers, featuring Gourmet Live's 50 Women Game Changers in Food - see end of post for list of bloggers participating & their blogs)

I am thrilled beyond belief that this week at #39 we have Ina Garten. Yes, THE Ina Garten. My favorite Food Network cook. For the novice cook and baker I am, Ina is an absolute joy to watch and I can sit for hours in front of the TV watching her gracefully and effortlessly pull delicious meals together. She, to me, is the epitome of simplistic elegance. When you watch her cook, you feel like there's nothing you can't do. She really does make you go, "how easy is that?", at the end of every show. Seriously. At least to me...after I've wiped off all the drool.

Source: House Beautiful
I secretly, Ok, not so secret anymore, wish my life would take the course hers has. Now, I know I'm not some big-shot brainiac working my way up to the White House Office of Management and Budget, like she did, but, I would like to think my humble career in PR comes close, even if it's a trillion miles away. Ina released all the stress and immense pressure she faced at work, by turning to her love of cooking and entertaining with dinner parties and soirees over the weekends and during any free time she got. On the side, Ina also indulged the interior decorator in her by buying, refurbishing and reselling homes. This also fattened her piggy bank, which would later come in handy.

In 1978, when Ina was looking for other creative outlets, she chanced upon an ad for a specialty food store on sale in the Hamptons. Curiosity aroused, Ina decided to investigate. After her visit, she made a low offer thinking the owner wouldn't really bite and that would give her more time to think about it. But, as fate would have it, the owner called the next day and handed her the keys to the shop. Dumbfounded, but thrilled, Ina bid adieu to the White House, dipped her hands into her piggy bank and took over the shop, previously called "Barefoot Contessa". Ina liked the name and decided to stick with it. That was the beginning of the story of Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.

In the 18 years that followed, Ina nurtured and grew the shop into a prominent hangout that was well-known for both its style and delicacies. The store saw a lot of footfall from affluent New Yorkers and celebrities alike. It certainly caught the eye of director Nancy Meyer, who used the store as a setting for her movie, Something's Gotta Give (I need to watch this one again and pay attention now!). In 1996, Ina sold the store to two of her employees.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Potato and Caraway Cakes by Darina Allen

(Part of a weekly series by a group of bloggers, featuring Gourmet Live's 50 Women Game Changers in Food - see end of post for list of bloggers participating & their blogs)

At #38 this week, we have Darina Allen, a culinary visionary and celebrity in Ireland. She's got two grand founding achievements under her belt - she's the founder of (a) the internationally renowned Ballymaloe Cookery School, Country Cork and (b) the first Farmers Market in Ireland. She still teaches at their family-run school and is actively involved in sourcing and setting up new farmers markets.

Credit: Koster Photography / Source: Cookstr
Her love for all things organic and locally-sourced also manifests itself in the way she runs the school, which is strategically located on a 100-acre organic farm. The emphasis of all teaching and operations at the school is on using the finest quality of home-grown and locally sourced ingredients and making a sustainable use of resources. The farm grows countless varieties of produce and seasonal goods, so students learn with the freshest ingredients possible and also experience first-hand the advantages of supporting your local farmers. 

Besides being a chef and teacher, Darina has written many popular, award-winning cookbooks including Darina Allen's Ballymaloe Cooking School Cookbook (nominated for best international cookbook by the James Beard Foundation) and Irish Traditional Cooking (winner of the Langhe Ceretto Prize in 1996). She's also food-writer and has appeared on many television shows and series as well. Darina was named Cooking Teacher of the Year by the IACP in 2005, and was the recipient of an honorary degree from the University of Ulster in 2003. You can read more about her achievements on her website.

Now, Darina is exactly the kind of chef/cook I love learning about since I just discovered a whole treasure-trove of recipes on her website. It's an interesting mix of Irish and international recipes, which has now been added to my list of go-to sources. I had the toughest time choosing a dish for this week since I literally wanted to make ALL of them. Seriously! I'm going back to the website for more!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Roasted Portobello & Spinach Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I'd been dreaming of a grilled cheese sandwich for a while now. Not literally, but figuratively.

During my sleep though, I never have ordinary dreams. Only over-the-top bizarre ones where I wake up wondering what in the world just happened. My dreams will start with one scenario but switch to different scenarios seamlessly. It's actually fun waking up and piecing things together. Like watching a movie with a random storyline which shifts and changes during the entire course with no purpose at all. I never remember my dreams beyond half an hour, but for that half hour, it's a thrilling ride to decipher what I dreamt about.

For the longest time, I had a recurring dream where I'd be all alone in a deserted place. The place resembled the house and colony we lived in at that time. I'd be running through the streets and eventually the house looking for someone, anyone. But, there would never be anyone. It was quite a disturbing dream, come to think of it. All I'm glad is that I don't have those anymore. Nowadays my dreams mostly revolve around friends and family and some random storyline. These I'm actually cool with.

But, even better than the real dreams are my dreams of a delicious grilled cheese sandwich. I'll take dreams of that ANY DAY. In fact, I pray for these grilled cheese kinda dreams to become real. Who wouldn't??

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I'm feeling the love with some Reader Awards

I'm just taking a moment, actually more, to drop what I've been doing and thank some lovely people for a couple of readers appreciation awards they've handed to me. It thrills me no end to receive such awards, even if I take ages to acknowledge them (sorry guys!). The reason why I take a while is because I'm always left scratching my head wondering who to pass these on to since I'm really bad at that. So, I decided to just club them all together and do my best.

The very first award I received was by the delightful Choc Chip Uru. She's just a teen but, you won't be able to guess by the amazing desserts she concocts. Seriously, she's probably half my age but already has double the talent! At her age, all I could think of were which Backstreet Boy was cuter and when I could get home to play my computer games. My mom would literally have to drag me to the kitchen if she needed help. But, CCUs parents are truly blessed to have such a wonderful daughter. I'd adopt her in a second if I could ;) You should absolutely make regular visits to her blog for the most drool-worthy dessert recipes.

The next couple of awards were given to me by the Happy Little Tomato. She's funny, she makes yummy-to-the-tummy desserts and she resembles Snooki (that's what she claims and I'd have to agree ;)). What more could you want from a fun food blog? I just recently started reading her blog and it brightens my day to see a lot of desserts, because I'm a dessert girl (can you see a trend?). You give me desserts instead of meals, and I'll be the happiest kid on the planet. So, head on over to Bridgett's blog and get your plates ready.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Fried Apples with Pecans

(Part of a weekly series by a group of bloggers, featuring Gourmet Live's 50 Women Game Changers in Food - see end of post for list of bloggers participating & their blogs)

Out of the 50 Women Game Changers in Food that we're learning more about, I'm thrilled to see someone as young as Severene von Tscharner Fleming make it to the list. At age 30, she's an accomplished young farmer, film-maker and activist with an impressive list of achievements - she's helmed a documentary on agricultural farmers, founded an organization - The Greenhorns, co-founded the National Young Farmers' Coalition and kick-started a whole movement for young farmers across North America. Phew, I feel like I've done a lot just by reading her story and the passion with which she continues to do wonders to help the nation's farming infrastructure.

Severine hails from a family where her maternal side inherited a farm for six generations. She grew up on the farm and that foundation eventually had an impact on the path she chose to persevere in life. A graduate of UC Berkeley, Severine played an active role in college activities as well, and that's where the idea for her documentary was born. While organizing a film festival at college, she noticed that all films that looked into the prospects of farming and agriculture portrayed very grim scenarios. But, as part of a young farming community, she knew very well that was not the whole truth and there needed to be awareness of the great possibilities and opportunities for young farmers. She decided to document her journey in building a network of young farmers who shared the same vision and to use the documentary to reach out to others across the nation, to inspire, help, support and offer guidance. Greenhorns, the organization, is a non-profit that promotes, supports and recruits young farmers in the US. They produce content and communications for young farmers — including film, radio, a blog, wiki, a guidebook, press, workshops, conferences, a coalition, mixers, GIS mapping and more.

Since Severine is more of an activist and farmer, there aren't any recipes of hers online that we could use to highlight her work this week. But, their website has a link to blogs of others in their farming community. So, I picked one of them and found this extremely simple recipe for fried apples and pecans.

Don't be fooled by how simple the dish looks and how easy it is to make. The aroma that fills your house when your sauteing the apples in butter and cinnamon is like heaven in a pan. It is even more yummy than the smell of baking cakes. Oh. Nothing compares to it. This doesn't even need any sugar or accompaniments. The girl who'd made it recommended serving it with fresh whipped cream. But, I preferred it without anything because the apples had such a delightful flavor on their own. Just make sure you use juicy apples. 

Fried Apples with Pecans (adapted from the blog, Make Wine & Cheese With Me)

Ingredients and instructions
  • 2 crisp, tart and sweet apples, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1/4 teaspoon or less of cinnamon powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter (I love salted butter)
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 2 teaspoons pecans, quartered or halved
In a saucepan, melt the butter on medium heat. Once it is melted, add the apple slices and stir till all the slices are coated with butter. Add the cinnamon powder and the lemons and mix well. Saute on medium low till the apples get tender and soft. 

Remove the lemons and serve.


Here's a list of the other bloggers participating in this series. Do go over to their blogs to see what yummy dishes they've whipped up. If you'd like to join the group, please get in touch with Mary of One Perfect Bite.

Val - More Than Burnt Toast [] Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed [] Susan - The Spice Garden [] Heather - girlichef [] Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney [] Jeanette - Healthy Living [] Mary - One Perfect Bite [] Kathleen - Bake Away with Me [] Sue - The View from Great Island [] Barbara - Movable Feasts [] Linda A - There and Back Again [] Nancy - Picadillo [] Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits [] Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen [] Annie - Most Lovely Things [] Claudia - Journey of an Italian Cook [] Alyce - More Time at the Table [] Amrita -Beetles Kitchen Escapades

Beetle's Most Popular