Crêpes with Rabbit Ragù

October 30, 2010
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I think half the fun of life is in embarking on adventures you’ve never done before, just to see what they would be like. Sometimes those are the scariest moments (like say, moving halfway across the world to a country where you knew nothing of the local language? ha), but sometimes they are also the moments best suited for growth and development. Not just in technique/skills, but also a personal evolution. I like to imagine a plate as a canvas, just waiting for flavors to come together and blend into new colors to paint the palate on the tongue. Comfort is tasty, and the ritualism that comes with the cherished and familiar always works. But that’s the thing. It’s safe, precisely because of its familiarity. The adrenaline from the rush of doing the unexpected isn’t present in comfort food – it is the very definition of the expected, and there is immense value in that. However, if I only ever did what was safe and comfortable, where would I be as a cook? As a person? Someone who only looks to past successes becomes very boring very quickly.


Daring Cooks #18: Rolled & Stuffed (Canh Bap Cai Cuon Thit)

October 13, 2010
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Wow can you believe Daring Cooks is on to their 18th challenge already?? It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were all attempting ricotta gnocchi for the first time… Well here we are, one and a half years in. So far I’ve had a lot of fun with this group. Some challenges have been better than others, but you’ll have that with just about any blogging group. My favorite challenges so far up to this point have been the paella and sushi challenges. Our October 2010 hostess, Lori of Lori’s Lipsmacking Goodness, has challenged The Daring Cooks to stuff grape leaves. Lori chose a recipe from Aromas of Aleppo and a recipe from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food. If you can’t tell from the photo above, I didn’t stuff grape leaves. In fact, neither grape leaves nor Middle Eastern cuisine were anywhere related to what I chose to do. But I did stuff and roll leaves. Instead I made Vietnamese cabbage roll soup, also known as Canh Bap Cai Cuon Thit.


What’s in a Name? A Not-so-Italian Bolognese

October 6, 2010
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Bolognese, or at least the Bolognese I grew up with, is my mom’s pasta sauce (and no, this is not something she calls “California Style”). She makes it differently from me though. I love her sauce – she would make about 20 servings at a time, and then freeze it so we could pull it out and use it whenever we wanted. Perfect on top of pasta, with veggies, in lasagna, oh so many many delicious plates can be made with a simple bolognese sauce…I’ve played with her recipe a lot, and found that I tend to like it using fresh tomatoes, and adding in some wine – it’s still rich and tomatoey, I just like the flavor and texture a bit better this way. I hope she doesn’t mind :)

After reading a bit about bolognese, I’m pretty sure what I grew up with and this sauce are definitely not a traditional bolognese sauce. According to Wikipedia (obviously a most trusted source in all things culinary), authentic bolognese doesn’t actually have that much tomato in it. Not only that, but a traditional ragù from Bologna is made with milk! Actually, this sauce looks to be a pretty interesting hybrid of ragù alla napoletana and ragù alla Bolognese. Maybe I should call this an American ragù? Seems more fitting than trying to pass it off as an authentic bolognese. And just to go against traditions a bit more, I happen to like mine served alongside some creamy cheese polenta.


The Gluten Free Husband Cooks Birthday Dinner – Asian Marinated Steaks

September 30, 2010
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Hi! The gluten-free husband is here again to share a special treat I made for you! My latest culinary achievement. Ok, achievement might be to strong, lets just call it a next step. So, Jenn and I have inadvertently started a tradition with our birthdays. If it’s your birthday, you pick your own dinner – exactly what you want, and then you make it for everyone (everyone being me and Jenn). I don’t know how this started, but it seems to be the way of things now and I like getting to flex my kitchen muscles from time to time. For my birthday, I wanted to stick to my carnivorous ways and make something Jenn doesn’t cook much of – a manly steak of beef with a rich Asian marinade.


Copycat P.F. Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps

September 17, 2010
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P.F. Changs may not have been the most authentic Asian restaurant we ever frequented in the States, but on our then extremely limited graduate student budgets we could go out to eat, be sure there was gluten free goodness, and get like 6 portions of food for $40 – a near steal for eating out. We would always order an appetizer, then my husband would get a fried rice and I’d get a rice noodle dish. Considering we were ordering as much for the leftovers as we were for the experience there, it was easier later if I also got a gluten free dish. One thing I can really commend them on, besides having a gluten free menu and system in place before most other restaurants knew what gluten free was, was their chicken lettuce wraps. I think they were our favorite dish out of the menu, and they certainly became a tradition of sorts whenever we went there.


Thai Chicken Curry Wraps

September 8, 2010
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Change can be a great thing. Change can be scary, but it can also be exciting. The seasons are changing, and September so far is doing a great job of letting me know Summer is on its way out. Change has also been happening in our every day lives as well. It only took us an entire month, but I am happy to say that everything is officially set with our new move. We even have furniture now (woohoo!) and don’t have to use suitcases as dresser drawers. This particular meal was one of the last dishes I ever made in our old kitchen, maybe even the last meal. Last meals are symbolic. This one represented all the craziness of moving that was now, officially, resolved. It was such a wonderful feeling, because as anyone who has transported their life’s belongs across a town in the heat of summer knows, the best part of moving is being done with it .