Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy 2009!

Wishing everyone prosperity, joy and good eating in 2009!

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Banana Nut Bread

I have a recipe card for banana nut bread from long long ago. Where I got it from, no one knows. But the Mister really likes it.

The Mister loves banana nut bread. And since there were a few very ripe bananas laying around, I thought I'd make a couple of loaves for him. (Ain't I sweet and thoughtful? hehe)

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnuts , toasted and chopped
3 very ripe bananas, mashed completely
1/4 cup plain yogurt (I use non-fat)
2 large eggs
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter , melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Grease a 9" loaf pan. I use Pam because it's simple and quick.

Position oven rack to lower position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and walnut together in large bowl. Set aside.

Mix mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter, and vanilla in medium bowl.

Fold banana mixture into dry ingredients until just combined. The batter will be thick. Put batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 55 minutes until loaf is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle. It takes about 60 minutes in my oven.

Cool in pan for 5 minutes on a cooling rack. Then remove the loaf from the pan and finish cooling on the cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. The Mister likes to butter his. I store the extra in an airtight container, which will keep for about 3 days. I haven't tried freezing it yet but since I made 2 loaves this time, I might have to try it unless the Mister is a total pig about it. (ssshhhh, don't tell him I said that).

Hope everyone got what everything they wished for from Santa. I did!

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Season's Greetings

From my family to yours, we wish everyone a wonderful holiday season!

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Prepping for Christmas Dinner

So it's been decided. We are having standing rib roast for Christmas. Whew, thank goodness because that I can do (over the turducken). I put the 4-bone roast in the refrigerator for aging yesterday. Ahhhh, can't wait! The Mister is planning on making his garlic mash potato. We'll also have sauteed mushrooms, au jus, corn, and probably something else. Ahhhh, can't wait! Oh, did I say that already? hehe

If you're still debating as to what to make for Christmas dinner, and you like an awesome prime rib, give the recipe a shot. Everyone who has tried and and reported back said it turned out great. Accolades to all those who made it and ate it. No kidding, really. I'm not joking. And the best thing is that everyone will think you worked really really hard on it to make it that perfect. Hey, let them think that, you deserve it!

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Chinese Hot Pot

I had a craving for hot pot a few weeks ago when the weather finally started to feel like Winter. Hot pot is something that can very simple or elaborate, depending on the occasion. Growing up, my family traditionally celebrate Chinese New Year with hot pots with 20 different dishes (for over 30 people) but they really can be, and has become, more than just for celebrations. With restaurants like Little Sheep, hot pot should be enjoyed whenever you like!

My homemade hot pots are pretty standard. A plate of 2-3 different meats. On this day, I bought some shabu shabu sliced prime steak and ribeye as well as Birkshire pork (all on sale at Marukai that week).

I also picked up pea sprouts, various mushrooms, kamaboko, fish balls, and frozen taro.

I also love cellophane noodles with hot pot. One of my favorites next to the kamoboko and fish balls.

The broth I use at home is very simple, store bought low sodium chicken broth. Can't get any easier than that. I had debated about getting one of those yin-yang hot pots like the ones at Little Sheep but decided against it. I really just like it simple when making it at home. I'll leave the fancy half-half for when we got out for hot pot!

I use an electric wok as our hot pot. Works great. I can adjust the temperature as needed and the width of the wok makes it easy to access everything.

I also concoct a very simple dipping sauce: sesame paste, soy sauce, chili garlic paste. The dish with what looks like soy in that last picture was a shabu shabu sauce I picked up on sale at Marukai. It tasted a bit like ponzu sauce but think I'll pass on it the next time.

There really isn't else much to say about hot pot. It's that simple and very fulfilling on a cold (and maybe wet) dreary day. So what are you waiting for? Go and eat well.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pizza (Dough!)

I've read that if one can make yeast bread successfully, one can make pizza dough. I think that's a pretty true statement. As a matter of fact, pizza dough, as I found out a few months back, is one of the easiest yeast doughs to make. That is, once I found the right recipe. Once again Betsy Oppenneer comes through with her pizza dough recipe. I love this recipe because I can make 4 12" pizza crust, prebake them, and freeze 2 of them for later. Really is nice in a pinch when time is short. And depending on what you like on your pizzas, this can be a very inexpensive meal, maybe even for a $5 Friday meal.

As far as preparations, you'll need about 1.5 - 2 hours to make the dough. I like to prebake the crust since I like my crusts crunchy and I can also freeze what doesn't get used.

2 (1/4 oz each) packages of active dry yeast (2 scant Tbsp)
2 1/2 C warm water (105-115 degrees F)
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp olive oil
5 1/2 - 6 1/2 C unbleached all purpose flour


In a large bowl, soften the yeast in the water.

Add the salt, sugar, oil and 3 cups of flour. Beat vigorously with a dough whisk or heavy-handled spoon for 2 minutes.

Gradually add more of the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough forms a mass and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface.

Knead the dough for about 8 to 10 minutes, adding a little flour at a time as needed to prevent sticking. The dough is ready when it becomes smooth, elastic and blisters begin to develop on the surface.

Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl. Turn to coat the entire ball of dough with oil. Cover the bowl with a tightly woven towel or plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Each part will make 1 12" round and 3/8" thick pizza. You can divide the dough however you like if you like deep dish, really thin crust, or undivided, which will make a 1 13x18" rectangular pizza that's about 1" thick.

Pat the dough into shape with your fingers and heel of your hand. I like to shape on top of a piece of parchment paper lightly oiled. I find this to be the easiest way to get the dough onto the pizza stone. It makes for easy removal too. No need for a pizza peel.

Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let it rest for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. (I've gone as short as 10 minutes and had no problems.)

Just before baking, prick the dough in several places with a fork. Put the crust directly on the pizza stone. If you don't have a pizza stone, you can place the dough on a well-greased baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Check at the 5 minute mark for bubbles. If there are bubbles, use a clean towel to push the air out of the bubbles. At 10 minutes, the crust should be slightly firm and pale. Remove immediately to a cooling rack.

You can start building your pizza! Depending on what the toppings are, the general rule of thumb is to bake for 10 minutes. I bake mine at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. I recommend starting there and then adjusting the temperature and the time to get the perfect crust browning and to cook the topping. For deep-dish pizza, bake for 15-18 minutes.

If you are freezing the crust, make sure the crust is completely cooled. Wrap with plastic wrap and then foil. Will keep in the refrigerator for several months. When you want pizza, just take it out of the freezer, add your toppings and bake in a preheated 450 degrees oven for 10 minutes. No need to thaw the crust! How easy is that?

The pizza in the picture above had a simple tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese, onions, mushrooms, spicy Italian sausage (precooked), and pepperoni. Yum!

Hope everyone is having a great weekend. Now go and eat well.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jeong Won Korean BBQ - Revisit

To kind of celebrate the holidays with some friends from work, we decided to have lunch at Jeong Won Korean BBQ yesterday. Ms. L and Mr. S were with me the first time in May. And since Ms. L and I noticed some differences between the 2 visits, I thought it was worth mentioning.

We also brought along Mr. T (no fool, not that Mr. T!). We got there a little after 11 am, the first customers of the day through the door. A very pleasant lady brought our menus and another very pleasant lady took our drink order. The first thing I noticed was that the menu has changed for the AYCE section. (Sorry, forgot my camera at home and had to use my Blackberry to take this photo.)

First off, it's now $19.85 per person (up $2 since May). And vegetable and seafood combos have been added. Notice the hours of operation on the right side. Happy hour starts at 11 am Monday through Friday! That means lunch hour discounts! Also, senior discounts and kids prices have been added. I did find the age of the kids price interesting. What about kids under the age of 6?

We ordered the galbi, boolgogi (bulgogi), dak gooi, and saewoo gooi to start (these spellings are throwing me off). They left one of the menus for us for re-order (nice!). Soon the panchan came. Not too different from the ones I remember from back in May. Then came the meat entries. Right off the bat, I noticed the much smaller plate, like the size of a small dinner salad. Hmm, might be a problem if they are slow on re-ordering of meat but we'll see. What I was really happy to see is that the galbi had actual ribs on them! This might be a not-so-good thing for those who just want the meat but for me, I like the taste of galbi with the bones. Well, because I'm a bone picker (sounds kind of weird now that I think about it). I also noticed that the marinade for the bulgogi and the galbi were on the darker side.

The young lady who served us was very nice and gave extra guidance to the guys. They did look a little perplexed, actually (hehe). Ms. L thought everything was better than the first time we were there. I definitely think the galbi had much better flavor although a bit on the sweet side.

The service was great. The servers changed out our grill plate 3 times. One of them suggested trying the beef brisket. It was good but our favorites were still the bulgogi and galbi. We also tried the squid and it was okay but liked the shrimp better. We were all pretty full by the end, although one of the servers thought we hadn't nearly enough and said there was still plenty of food in the back. Ha! But we were all pretty stuffed by then.

They still offer the free soft serve and juice, although the soft serve machine was on the blink yesterday. So overall, everyone really enjoyed the meal. I've read some reviews in the past month how the quality has gone down but we didn't find that to be the case on our visit. Mr. T even said he wanted to bring his wife for dinner.

Jeong Won Korean BBQ
4690 Convoy St., #104
San Diego, CA 92111
Hours: Sun-Sat 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Happy Hour $16.85: Mon-Fri 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.; 9:00 p.m-12:00 a.m.
Senior Discount $16.85 anytime
Kids Discount (6-9 years old) $8.85

Hope everyone isn't going too crazy with holiday shopping. And remember, always stop to eat well to keep your energy up!

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Pearl Harbor

Growing up in Hawaii, specifically on Oahu, December 7 was always a day of remembrance. I couldn't tell you how many times I've been to the USS Arizona Memorial, well into the teens. But even now, I still can't help feeling all sorts of emotions whenever I visit the Memorial. I took the above picture on the USS Arizona Memorial during one of my visits in 2006. It is one of my favorite pictures.

Here is another one of the Memorial from a different angle. You might notice that the flag was at half-mast. It was because I took this picture on Sept. 19, 2001, just 8 days after Sept. 11. Our plane tickets to Honolulu was scheduled for Sept. 12. Yup. Flights were cancelled and TBD as to when the airlines were going to resume flights. Although we lost our vacation enthusiasm (among other things), after some discussion, we decided to reschedule our flight as soon as possible, which was 4 days later. Fundamentally, the terrorists attacked our nation, our way of living, our believes, and our freedom. We felt at the time that it was best to continue on with our plans and that it was our way of giving the terrorists (how ever small) the Mainland Shaka (aka the Bird). That was also the year we purchased one of the flags that was flown on the Memorial. Quite fitting, I thought.

It's been kind of a military-themed week for me. Yesterday I attended a Change of Command Ceremony on the Midway. The tourists visiting yesterday certainly got their money's worth! While waiting for the ceremony to start, I had quite a few tourists ask me about the event. Not too many people outside the military gets a chance to see this time honored tradition. I've been lucky to have attended my first one in Hawaii last year. That one was held on the USS Missouri. Both ceremonies had Admirals as guest speakers (very cool!) and I enjoyed them both.

And today, as I like to do every year, pay homage to those who serve this country, those who stand in harms way to protect us and what our great nation stands for. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tuesday Ramblings

I've already gotten several emails asking for Christmas dinner suggestions. Of course if you're not all turkey'ed out by then, consider a turducken, or a brined or fried turkey. For me, I'll be doing my usual standing rib roast, I think. And if you've been following along, I had promised the Mister to get a turducken if he still wants it. He hasn't made up his mind yet but I have a feeling he's a bit turkey'ed out. But we'll see. So what was my point? Oh yeah, Christmas dinner suggestions.

My MIL has bought honey roasted ham a couple of times before but since none of us are huge ham fans (except for me in sandwich form), we don't have this too often. It's never crossed my mind to make ham (do people actually make ham??) but I suppose that's an option. It's an easy one too if you buy it.

We've also had Chinese roast duck too, and I love it when we do this! Less work for me and I just love Chinese roast duck! (Dagnammit, now I'm craving roast duck) We usually buy 2 ducks (sometimes 3 so there's leftovers for everyone). As far as trimmings, I make brown rice, a veggie dish, some char siu (Chinese BBQ pork), and King's Hawaiian Bread. Very easy, very delicious.

Now if you want to do something different and make a family event out of "making" Christmas dinner, how about making tamales? You can read all about the tamale's symbolism from Ed's (mmm-yoso) post here. I'm the only one that likes (loves!) tamales, so to go through the effort (aka sweat and pain) to make these and then be the only one to eat them wouldn't be worthwhile. I would be happy but no one else would be.

Or, how about some Chinese water dumplings (shui jiao)? Or even Chinese hot pot (or Japanese shabu shabu)?

Or how about a themed potluck? Kind of like Iron chef. A friend of mine was thinking of doing this last year but chickened out. She wanted to pick a "not-so-secret" ingredient and every family member had to make something using it. Sounds fun and certainly adventurous.

Those are all the things my poor brain can come up with for now. Feel free to add your suggestions.

Have a good week. Now go and eat well.

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