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Cooking with Fel – Orange Yogurt Cake

June 27, 2010

For those who don’t know, the mom is a health freak. Thanks to her, every time I look at a recipe for some kind of baked good, all I can focus on are the number of sticks of butter listed under “Ingredients”. (2 sticks? 3 sticks? Who does this recipe think I am – Paula Deen?!) If it calls for too many sticks of butter, I don’t bake.

Wait, what? Baking without butter?
Yeah, I know. (As you can guess, I bake very, very rarely.)

I had basically resigned myself to a life sans baking until recently, when someone tipped me off to baking with yogurt. I was already familiar with swapping apple sauce for oil in some recipes but to do the same with yogurt and butter? You’ve basically opened up the world for me!

This knowledge came in really handy when I recently had one of my sporadic urges to bake. I knew I had a tub of greek yogurt in the fridge and a quickly went to the web to dig up a good recipe. Wouldn’t you know, my favorite food recipe blog of all time – Smitten Kitchen – had a quick and easy recipe for a yogurt cake. I had no limes so I swapped it for an orange and didn’t bother with the sauce seeing that I had no other fruits in the fridge. (Considering how much food we buy every week, my fridge is always surprisingly bare.)

When I took the final product out of the oven, I was happy to find that the cake itself was actually very fragrant, especially since I zested the entire orange. (I used fresh squeezed juice from that same orange for the recipe too.) Not only that, even though I overbaked it just a tad, it was also quite moist and not too dense. I think, if I make an orange cake the next time around, I’m going to make a cranberry glaze for it…like, oranges and cranberries for the holidays? Who knows. All I know is, be prepared for more baking recipes with yogurt in them!

Orange Yogurt Cake
Modified From: Lime Yogurt Cake with Blackberry Sauce by Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

* 1 cup plain unsweetened whole milk yogurt
* 1/3 cup vegetable oil
* 1 cup sugar
* zest of one orange
* 1/4 cup orange juice
* 2 eggs
* 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

* 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the sides of a 9-inch round cake pan or springform pan with oil and line the bottom with parchment paper if the pan is not springform. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, oil, sugar, orange zest and juice. Add the eggs one by one, whisking well after each addition. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together, right over your yogurt batter. Stir with a spoon until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let stand for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the pan to loosen. If you’re using the springform pan, unclasp the sides. Otherwise, flip the cake onto a plate and flip it back on the rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Bacon Wrapped Hot Dog Event – Behold, the “Felly Dog”!

May 5, 2010

Although this hot dog eating extravaganza was almost a month and a half ago, this food porn is just too good to leave sitting on a hard drive somewhere. If you missed the event, don’t fear! There’s another one coming up later this month – on May 22nd, to be exact – so plan ahead! If it’s anything like this last one, it’ll be a blast.

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For those who don’t know, I used to be an avid yelper. I used to go to their events (both official and unofficial) all the time and meet new people, many of whom I now consider close friends. However, due to personal scheduling issues and changes in Yelp’s demographics, I haven’t been going to very many events recently. Javier J.‘s Bacon Wrapped Hot Dog event was my first event back in 2010.

Javier might be the most awesome event planner ever. Not only does the guy provide hundreds of free bacon wrapped hot dogs to almost fifty hungry yelpers but he goes all out on the condiments, bringing both traditional and non-traditional toppings. Forget just plain ketchup, mustard and relish – inspired by Dogzilla’s Japanese hot dogs, Javier packed yakisoba noodles, nori flakes, avocados and wasabi mayo. He didn’t just stop there though – he went even deeper into Asian fusion territory, bringing French baguettes and pickled vegetables for a “bun mi” and kimchi pickled radishes for a Korean dog.

I ate two of these hot dogs – one Japanese inspired and one Vietnamese inspired – but was still looking for that perfect combination. It was then I concocted the ultimate Asian-fusion loaded hot dog: the “Felly Dog”.

(Behold! The “Felly Dog”)

The Felly Dog consists of a veggie dog (yes, that’s right – a vegetarian hot dog) wrapped in bacon (why wrap vegetarian meat in real pork? why not?), topped with wasabi mayo, nori flakes, pickled carrots, avocado, kimchi radishes, with yakisoba noodles. I thought it was pretty tasty (but at that point, I was giddy off bacon wrapped hot dogs so I can’t guarantee that it’ll taste as good for you).

By the end of Javier’s event, I had eaten three whole hot dogs, two beers, two cans of soda, a couple vegan brownies and an individual sized bag of chips all by myself. (Not too shabby, if I say so myself!)

This was a great event.

Cooking with Fel – A Nostalgic Bacon Sandwich

May 1, 2010

I don’t usually write about things as mundane as making myself lunch, but for some reason I felt the urge to document today’s…so I am. (Oh, the joys of running your own site!)

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I opened the fridge this morning, hoping to make myself some french toast or maybe a grilled cheese a la “The Afterburn” but, upon opening the fridge, I realized that just wasn’t going to happen.

(I opened the fridge; I was greeted with this.)

Now, if you follow my twitter account, you know I am not a creative cook. In the half dozen times I’ve actually cooked this year, because I’ve tried to “challenge myself as a chef” (that’s how I describe it), I’ve created two failed frittatas and one failed angel food cake. Therefore, when faced with a semi-empty fridge, I’m not going to attempt to do anything more than make myself a sandwich. (I was just hoping there would be enough in the fridge for me to piece one together.)

Lucky for me, I found three ingredients to sandwich between bread.

(I even labeled the picture for you!)

For lunch, I made myself a bacon, tomato and avocado sandwich.

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…Before I continue – are people still reading? Are you wondering why I had an urge to write about an empty refrigerator and a stupid sandwich?

Well, here’s my tidbit story:

When I was a kid, the mom used to take the brother and I to these educational prep courses every weekend. Class was always around lunchtime so the brother and I would either eat at home and then jet to class or, if we didn’t have time to do that, we would go to the neighborhood sandwich shop a couple doors down after class and order a sandwich.

That sandwich shop was the first place I ever had a BLT sandwich. As kids, we had pretty healthy diets and bacon is…not really healthy (to say the least). Thus, I remember the idea of using bacon as a lunch meat substitute BLEW MY MIND. Once we figured out we could build a bacon sandwich, the brother and I made BLTs all the time, usually including avocado in the sandwich because we always had avocados on hand. (We may be Asian, but we love our avocados!)

Fast forward to today – I honestly can’t remember the last time I made a sandwich out of bacon; I definitely haven’t had one in years. But with that first bite of bread and bacon and tomato and avocado, I instantaneously remembered that sandwich shop and homemade bacon sandwiches as a kid.

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I had a bacon, tomato and avocado sandwich for lunch today. It was really good.

Dinner Party – Good Wine & Food, Good Friends, Good Times

March 13, 2010

I’ve come to realize the best moments in life occur when you’re sitting around a table with good friends and a bottle of wine. There really is nothing better.

Last weekend, I had one of these moments with 5 friends – a group we have since dubbed “The Potato Ball Crew” (i.e. “the PBC”). The rain may have been pouring last Saturday, but our wine may have been pouring harder. Six people, nine bottles of wine and a lot of good food…Safe to say, it was a good night.

(These wines paired well with our saliva.)

Our hostess for the night, Shelley (of Vinovents, who is now posting on CitySipper), was gracious enough to let us use her beautiful home for these festivities. Our dinner was rather hearty considering it was completely vegetarian; I might have I filled myself up on our delicious cheese platter with its chunks of brie and Stilton.

Although all the food was fantastic (minus my contribution to this classy potluck of Trader Joe’s frozen foods – I didn’t have time to cook!), my favorite dishes of the night were a unique edamame hummus (for which I think I’ll have to steal the recipe in the near future) and Shelley’s delicious farro salad. The fresh green beans and toasted hazelnuts were reminiscent of the green beans and walnuts at Petrossian, and the fried shallots were a savory addition to the dish. I enjoyed that salad so much, I’ve included the recipe below. I was told the total prep time of 45 minutes was misleading, but I personally think I was worth the effort.

To end: Thanks to my fellow Potato Ballers for a great night. I had a fantastically glorious time, and can’t wait for the next round!

Eat our balls!

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Farro and Green Bean Salad
From: Food & Wine Magazine, May 2006

TOTAL TIME: 45 MIN

Ingredients:

* 1 cup farro (7 ounces)
* Water
* Salt
* 6 ounces thin green beans
* 1 cup pure olive oil, for frying
* 4 large shallots—3 thinly sliced, 1 minced
* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* 3 cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
* 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
* 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
* 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 3 tablespoons salted toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
* Freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, cover the farro with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover, remove from the heat and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain the farro and return it to the pan. Add 2 more cups of water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cook the farro over high heat until al dente, about 10 minutes; drain well.
  2. Meanwhile, in a saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the green beans until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes; drain. Rinse the beans under cold water and pat dry.
  3. Heat the pure olive oil in a medium saucepan. In a small bowl, toss the sliced shallots with the flour, separating them into rings. Transfer the shallots to a strainer and tap off the excess flour. Add the shallots to the hot oil and fry over high heat, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried shallots to paper towels to drain thoroughly; season lightly with salt.
  4. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the oil from the saucepan. Add the mushrooms and cook over high heat, stirring, until browned. Transfer to a plate.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk the sherry and balsamic vinegars with the minced shallot, garlic and thyme. Whisk in the extra-virgin olive oil. Add the farro, green beans, hazelnuts and three-fourths of the fried shallots and toss gently. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a platter or shallow bowl. Garnish with the remaining fried shallots and serve.

Yield: 6 servings


Cooking with Fel – Couscous Salad with Pickled Radishes and Feta

February 24, 2010

Just this past week, I’ve become obsessed with couscous and quinoa. Like, totally obsessed. I think it’s their texture – the seediness of quinoa, the globular grains of coucous – I just can’t get enough!

So when I decided to cook this weekend and found a recipe for a quinoa salad, I knew I had to make it. All the fresh veggies were on sale at the local ethnic market for ridiculous prices – it was A SIGN. (Side tangent: I bought a bunch of radishes, a handful of parsley, a large cucumber, half a pound of green beans and two lemons for a little over $1.50. How this market makes money, I have no idea.) Sadly, while scouring the aisles, I realized they didn’t carry quinoa, but they did carry Israeli couscous (the larger sized ones of the various types available) and I decided to just swap the two.

Just a note: It’s probably not a good idea to make this too far in advance. After an extended period of storage, the red wine vinegar from the pickled radishes start to seep into the couscous. Otherwise, it’s great if you’re looking for a light, fresh salad to dive into.

Couscous Salad with Pickled Radishes and Feta
Modified From: Quinoa Salad with Pickled Radishes and Feta from Food & Wine Magazine, July 2008

ACTIVE: 30 MIN
TOTAL TIME: 1 HR 15 MIN

Ingredients:

* 1 cup red wine vinegar
* 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
* 4 medium radishes, very thinly sliced
* 1/2 pound thin green beans
* 1 cup toasted Israeli couscous
* 1 large English cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
* 3 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
* 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
* 6 ounces Greek feta cheese, thinly sliced

Directions:

In a small saucepan, bring the red wine vinegar to a simmer with the sugar. Remove from the heat and add the radish slices. Let stand until cool, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan of salted boiling water, blanch the green beans until they are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse the beans under cold water until cool. Pat the beans dry and cut them into 1 1/2-inch lengths.

In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the couscous, cover and simmer over low heat until all of the water has been absorbed. Uncover and let stand until cool.

In a medium bowl, toss the cucumber with 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, toss the couscous with the parsley, lemon juice and the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Drain the radishes and add them to the couscous, along with the beans, cucumber and feta. Toss well and serve.

Yield: 6 servings