Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer Quinoa Salad with Seared Zucchini & Chickpeas


Zucchini squash has been on the menu a *lot* in my kitchen lately.  Along with its multi-colored and often exuberantly shaped zephyr, pattypan, scallop, carnival, and gooseneck heirloom squash cousins, it has been a joy to see the strength of their numbers at the farmers' market and local grocers.  With such a diversity of not only shape, but flavor and texture, I am doing my best to take advantage of the season and try them all.  So, to perhaps help you do the same, I present a simple, yet strikingly flavorful, dish that will hit the spot for any occasion.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rhubarb Ginger Compote


Rhubarb - an ingredient known far and wide, and yet when asked exactly what it is, many are hard pressed to provide an answer outside how delicious it is with strawberries in a pie.  A plant similar in appearance to a cross between Swiss chard and celery with a canopy of large triangular leaves, it is a beautiful herbaceous perennial known for its fibrous stalks and trademark mouth-puckering tartness.  While the crimson variety is best known, rhubarb can range in color from pale green to yellow to a speckled pink.  First appearing in Spring, weather permitting, its growing season can continue throughout the Summer and even into the Fall, allowing this common and yet exotic ingredient to find its way into desserts, mason jars, roasting pans, and happy tummies for a good part of the year.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Chilled Buckwheat Noodles


Today's recipe was inspired by a memory not from my childhood, but from my young adulthood.  Many of you know that I once worked at a place called Eastern Accents in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a Chinese bakery and restaurant that also specialized in Korean food.  It was in the years between completing my undergraduate and leaving for Texas to pursue my graduate degree, and allow me to say with no hesitation that they were truly glorious.  The business has since closed, but the owners and I still stay in contact, and they often refer to the time that I was there as their "golden years."  Employees were happy and productive, the business thrived, and we loved and respected each other as a family, creating friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Fresh Mango and "Sticky" Quinoa


Allow me to express how much I love mango.  I have many fond childhood memories of my mother coming home from work during the Summer with a bag of beautifully ripe mangoes in tow.  She would deftly cut around the large seed, score the two outer thirds, and present them to my brother, sister, and I.  Our hands would be sticky, our upper lips mustached with orange pulp, and our smiles rife with the fibers as we enjoyed mango after mango until we were stuffed.  My mother saved the middle part with the seed, or the buto as we called it in Tagalog, for herself, unwrapping the sliver of skin around it like a delectable gift and then chewing the more tart flesh around the seed with closed-eyed contentment.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Icy Watermelon Mango Drink:
A Toast to Summer


Well, it was inevitable.  

In Austin, we have been spoiled with weather reminiscent of an actual Spring, with rain, cool, cloudy mornings, water in our brooks, lakes, and rivers, extended wildflower bloomings, and temperatures floating somewhere between 70 and 85 on a daily basis.  Which is totally not normal.  Which is why the extremely tardy appearance of Summer has completely blindsided so many of us here.  Now, temperatures are shackled between the 90s and 100+, and that's before we even take humidity into account, and walking outside during the day is less a recreational activity than a necessary evil.  [wrings out sweat-soaked bandanna]

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Honor, Gratitude, & Remembrance


It all starts somewhere.

Whenever anyone remarks on my kindness, my smile, my compassion, my passion for taking care of others, and my memory for details, I always give credit where credit is due.  And the lion's share would easily go to the two women who raised me:  my Mother and her Mother.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Horchata: Happy Cinco de Mayo!


The first time I had horchata was when I moved to Austin in 2002.  It was at a taqueria in the wee hours of the morning after a night at the clubs, and my friends were ordering tall red plastic glass after tall red plastic glass of it.  When I asked what it was and they described it as "milky, cinnamony, and sweet," it didn't exactly rouse my tastebuds.  But upon being coaxed into taking a sip so I could "see for myself,"let's just say it was a wake-up call.  The look and the smile on my face made all my friends laugh out loud.  And that morning marked my leap onto the horchata bandwagon as tall red plastic glass after tall red plastic glass found its way to my place at the table.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Kale Norimaki Crunch Rolls


When the weather warms, something I tend to crave is sushi.  Something about it hearkens to cooling down after a long, hot day under the sun, awaiting the cover of nightfall and the pleasure of nightlife.  Back in the day, come May I was such a frequent flier at my local sushi bar that they would know me by name.  I would proudly order in Japanese, and the chefs happily took to broadening my vocabulary (with both savory and unsavory phrases, no doubt).  It was a transporting experience, allowing me to leave behind the stresses of school, work, and/or everyday life, and for a meal, I could imagine I was a jet setter passing through Tokyo or Nagoya, sampling the local cuisine.