Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Weekend brunch idea-baked eggs

Since I started my new job, I haven't really had a chance to enjoy breakfast. The hectic weekday morning ritual confines me to either PBJ sandwich, or fried eggs and bacon. The weekday ritual momentum somehow tends to drive into the weekends, when I sleep in and eat two meals a day.  Of course the hunger kicks in around mid-afternoon. I finally wrapped up my sleeve and decided to cook weekend brunches to reward my bored stomach. Here is the very first attempt. Baked eggs!


1 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 tbsp. cooked chopped spinach, squeezed to extract excess liquid
4 eggs
½ tomato
2 tbsp. heavy cream
2 tbsp. grated parmesan
½ tsp. chopped fresh thyme
¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Heat oven to broil and place a rack 10" from the heating element. Grease two 8-oz. gratin dishes with butter. To each dish, add 2 tbsp. spinach. Using your fingers, make 2 wells in each pile of spinach and crack 2 eggs into each dish.

2. Cut tomato into wedges and nestle 4 wedges on opposite sides of each dish. Pour 1 tbsp. heavy cream into each dish.
3. Sprinkle each dish with 1 tbsp. parmesan, 1⁄4 tsp. thyme, 1⁄8 tsp. nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to oven rack and broil until the cheese is golden brown, and the eggs are set. (depending on how you wanna your eggs, you might wanna adjust the cooking time) 10mins. 

4. Use tongs and a kitchen towel to transfer dishes to 2 serving plates lined with paper napkins to prevent the dishes from slipping.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Pesto pesto

Recently, I got a sweet basil plant with the intent of whipping up a batch of homemade pesto.  It turned out to be a long and arduous journey, involving no less than five grocery stores to acquire all the ingredients.  Do you know how hard it is to get pine nuts in Elmhurst?

Anyway, ingredients in hand, I parked myself in front of my woefully-underpowered blender and set to work on two batches, one using the traditional recipe with pine nuts and one with walnuts instead of pine nuts and added parsley to give it a little twist.  The traditional batch was a little more nutty, while my custom creation was a little more mellow.  Here is the link to Saveur magazine that inspired my creation.

Classic pesto genovese recipe:


4 cups packed basil, blanched briefly in boiling water and shocked in ice water
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Coarse sea salt and black pepper to taste


Process basil, oil, parmesan, pine nuts,and garlic in a food processor until smooth; season with salt and pepper.

Pesto di noce (walnut pesto)


1 1/2 cups packed basil
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup toasted walnuts
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan
1/2 cups packed fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic
Sea salt and  black pepper, to taste

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thai green papaya salad ( Som Tam)

It's summer time again! My favorite season of the year. When I was a kid, the whole idea of summer simply meant school break, watermelon, grapes, swimming, ice cream, and days and nights spent playing with my cousins in my grandpa's house in the countryside. I am so grateful to have a happy childhood, highlighted by those carefree summers in the countryside playing like there's no tomorrow.  Although there's no more school breaks, and family is far far away, I still love summer the most, for its variety of fruits, for girls' vibrant-colored dresses, and for the refreshing summer food, such as this green papaya salad.  It's been so hot in NYC recently, almost 100F. I've lost appetite to make anything hot. I tried this in a Thai restaurant in my neighborhood and fell in love immediately. Sweet balances with salty, crunchy mixed with chewy...   and I decided to recreate it by myself.

I used the recipe from Thaitable.com and changed it a little to fit my tastebuds.


5 cherry tomatos, halved
1 red chili pepper, coarsely sliced
1 tablespoon baby dried shrimp
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons water
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups shredded green papaya
1/2 lime, juiced
1 1/2 tablespoons palm sugar
2 tablespoons toasted peanuts, coarsely crushed

Mix all the ingredients, chill in the fridge until serving.

To shred the papaya, the best tool is something like this,

I got mine from an Asian market. it makes beautiful smooth and long strips.  If you don't have one, a coarse cheese grater would do the work. The strips would be shorter and thiner. The authentic green papaya salad (Som Tam/Tum) recipe calls for a mortar and pestle to mash everything, for the best texture and flavor. I simply omitted that, and let the flavor soaked in when chilled in the fridge. It still tastes amazing.