Browsing Category: Guest Blogs

Friendly Friday:
Instant Pot – Virtually Instant, Really!

Spaghetti and meat made via Instant Pot by Tanya

Recently, I had a chance to visit my fellow Minnesotan friend Tanya, her spouse Justin, and their daughter Mabel in Portland. They graciously had me over for dinner, and I got to see a demo of the Instant Pot. Apparently she was so excited about it she bought a second one when it was on sale on Amazon. My friend Candace in San Francisco had previously bothered messaging me about this device as a sped up way to make radish cakes, so it seemed only right that I listen to the universe’s repeated prodding to investigate this gadget.

Tanya said I could post the video despite her self-consciousness if I did an Instant Pot post, so here we go. Check out super-mobile Mabel! I wish I could take a picture of the smell

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Singapore: Hawker Centre Crash Course

Singapore is famous for its food culture, and although there are certainly high-end top-dollar restaurants with 10-course menus that would charm the foodiest ex-pat executive, the heart of that food culture lives in the local hawker centres.
Street food is a common cultural institution throughout the world, but has a special place in Southeast Asia in particular as the dominant working-class cuisine and in Singapore’s case primary meal option. The hawker centres themselves are the result of a typically Singaporean government effort in the 1970’s to improve food safety and keep an ever-increasing army of food hawkers from blocking traffic. The government built and maintains the cavernous markets themselves, and administers licensing and health codes. Despite this standardization, the hawker centre is still a vibrant part of the local culture and a wonderfully chaotic den of unexpected delights to western palates and challenges to preconceptions about “eating out”.

Tekka Centre, Singapore. Photo by Mike Borchert.

The centres are organized as long lines of narrow, no-frills stalls, each operated by a different vendor, each with their own specialties and styles. Although the cuisines tend to be dominated by the ethnicity of the surrounding neighborhood, it’s still a grab-bag of curries, dumplings, soups, hot pots, noodles, satay, fruit juices, and everything else that’s taken root in this culinary crossroads. Continue Reading

The Tapas of Al Andalus in Spain

A guest post by Karl:

Besides the amazing architecture of Al Andalus (the name of southern Spain during the times of the Islamic rule from ~700 – 1492, the area now known as Andalusia), the area is also known for tapas.

Tapas
Tapas are generally served in most bars and restaurants.  Some only serve tapas, and are known as a tapas bar.  With each drink that you order, you get small bites of food that come with the drink.  This is tapas.  I described it to others as a Spanish dim sum while drinking.  It’s a whole culture in Spain.  And it’s fantastic.

The type of tapas that come with your drinks can vary widely.  From the very basic potato chips with your beer to a small plate of calamari with your sangria.

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Empanada-rama at Stephanie’s: I wish I could take a picture of this smell!

 

Empanada:

The name comes from the verb empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread … Empanadas have their origins in Galicia (Spain) and Portugal. They first appeared in Medieval Iberia during the time of the Moorish invasions. A cookbook published in Catalan in 1520 mentions empanadas filled with seafood among its recipes of Catalan, Italian, French, and Arabian food. It is believed that empanadas and the very similar calzones are both derived from the Arabic meat-filled pies, samosas. The dish was carried to Latin America and the Philippines by Spanish colonists, where they remain very popular to this day.

Majura Primary School in Watson, Australia +portions confirmed in NY Times article +The Spruce.com*

A dish truly borne of our collective human heritage!

Proxy guest post, because my friend Stephanie says she doesn’t like writing about herself. As one who loves all dough-wrapped dishes, she hosted the empanada-rama.

This recipe for dough won out:
Thanks, Laylita! How to Make Empanada Dough for Baking Continue Reading

Chef Kyle Wisner’s Lunch Break Demo @the Book Larder

One overcast Monday morning, I ventured over to the Book Larder, a community cookbook store on Fremont Ave of Seattle. I’ve ridden past there many a time by bike and by bus, and always meant to go. Finally, I found time and managed to sign up for classes a few days ahead.

Note: if you are scrambling for last minute gifts for people who love to eat, cooking classes may be a good option that ships instantaneously! Be mindful to check if it’s a demo, or hands-on, as that may matter depending on how much your loved one likes to cook (i.e. more hands-on for those who are into working with their hands, more demo for those who are more into eating the final product). Go ahead, click away from this post, I won’t mind.. 🙂

Chef Kyle Wisner did a delicious demo for the group on some straightforward recipes for swift home cooking, perfect for a hectic holiday season. Below are some recipes he shared, editorial commentary is my own.

Pork Roast

Ingredients:

Center-cut pork roast
Enough za’atar spices to cover surface of the roast
kosher salt to preference

Tools: oven, , baking dish, meat thermometer

Steps:

  1. Salt the roast “aggressively”, like any steak or other big cut of meat, rest the roast out to room temperature before roasting. Preheat oven to 400 (or 425F if your oven is weak sauce).
  2. Cover surface in za’atar spice.
  3. Bake roast in oven until it reaches an internal temp of 120F, approximately 18-30 minutes. It will likely still be a little pink in the middle, but the juices will disperse back and finish as you let the roast rest a while before serving.
  4. Optional: bonus points for drawing a depiction of “aggressively salting.”

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Oke Poke

Editor’s note: for the purposes of this post, all words that end with the suffix “oke” should be pronounced or more likely internally read as “okay”.

Guest blog brought to you by marriage.

Left coast living will bring you to Hawaii if you are of the means or the miles to get there. East coast has quick access to Europe and I guess the Caribbean and Newfoundland, but we get the tiny volcanic islands. Upon recommendation of my cubicle-mate, I decided to try and enjoy some Poke during a recent visit to Kauai. A few foursquare searches later, I settled on Pono Market. No joke (please see editor’s note), the poke was delicious, and we ended up going back again prior to departing the island. The final meal was garnished with a bit of sadness due to the knowledge that I would not be able to reproduce this dance of flavors again upon returning to the Pac.

 

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Seoul Revisited – Guest Blog from K on Chizza

On Jan 28, 2016, at 7:51 AM, Kristoffer Jonson (email redacted) wrote:
My 2pm KFC excursion ended up being my lunch and dinner.
Chizza brought me there but there was so much to experience.

ChizzaTrip1

Apparently it was a great time to come to Seoul because they are discontinuing the Chizza.

ChizzaTrip2
It was 38% off but still full of flavor.  I love the precision they used in how much it was on sale.

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Upo trials – Part 2!
Upo two ways, a guest post by Tricia

A guest post from my friend Tricia! Y’all get a two-fer today, enjoy!

-Y_______.

Upo, Two Ways

When I read about Yiling’s upo bounty, I was excited to take one on for myself. I love all vegetables and love to think up creative ways to cook them. Reading more about the squash, one recipe quickly came to mind. After looking further at how it was used in different recipes, I had another plan in mind – not a recipe, per se, but an approach.

Two upo’s arrived on my doorstep one evening and I was very impressed by their size and their heft.

Carrying one is akin to carrying a pumpkin, if the pumpkin was long and oblong rather than round. The rind/skin was very tough – nothing like a summer squash or cucumber. It took some muscle and a lot of patience to carve the rind off of the more tender center. Some parts of the squash were notably woodier than others with large, tough seeds. This was different from the pictures I’d seen, so decided to cut that away. I am guessing that this is because the squash were harvested late and/or had sat for a while toughening up. Regardless, even after cutting out about a third of the squash, I was left with enough for both recipes I wanted to try. Each recipe made 4 servings.

For my first attempt, I started at the butcher. B&E is my local butcher – taking over from A&J Meats, a Seattle institution. Fortunately, B&E hired the butcher who made A&J’s sausages, which were and are once again fantastic. I picked up 2 traditional bratwurst and 1 chicken garlic for a total of ~ 1 pound of meat. The butcher removed them from their casings, so it was ready for me to sauté along with a diced onion. I added to that some roasted poblano (spicy!) that I had left over from my CSA, several tablespoons of minced ginger, some rice wine, a spoonful of chili-garlic sauce, and a 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes. Then the cubed squash joined the party as I let everything cook together for an hour or so. The result was delicious – like a bolognaise but with more heft from the squash and spice from the ginger, pepper, and chili. I served this with roast spaghetti squash.

For upo #2, I followed this recipe from food52: Miso Quinoa Pilaf with Grilled Cucumber, Eggplant, and Soy Dressing:

I substituted the eggplant and cucumber with the upo and some diced radishes (also from the CSA box; wasn’t sure what else to do with them). I followed the recipe, more or less, other than cooking the quinoa in stock rather than milk and stir-frying the veg rather than grilling them. I also added the miso at the end, as it’s my understanding that you get more of miso’s health benefits if it doesn’t boil. Again, terrific results: the balsamic/soy/orange/miso combo was intensely flavorful, the radishes added crunch, and the squash rounded out a healthy vegetarian meal.

Novelty Rating: 5 of 5
It was really fun trying something totally different, especially as there is very little about this on the internet. The recipes I used also had very unusual flavor combinations, which made the meals fun to eat.
Likelihood of Repeat: 5%
While it was really fun trying something new, the squash took a lot of work to cut up and it didn’t, on its own, contribute much to the flavor of the dish. I would, however, try the recipes with other vegetables, however, like eggplant, cucumber, and summer squash.
Lesson learned: This was a good reminder that really tasty sausage can make a dish very special. I’ve already gone back to B&E to try another variety for another recipe.

 

Thank you, Yiling, for giving me a fun culinary experience!

Tricia

Guest Vid by K: Espresso & Tonic!

Inspired by our neighborhood coffee shop Neptune’s Espresso Tonic (as mentioned in Bon Appetit), K___ tried his hand at making one himself, using our favored tonic water of choice, Fever Tree*. Presenting: espresso tonic, the Wongson way!

Today’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating:
 5 of 5 stars.
Well, that is certainly novel.
Likelihood of Repeat: 35%
The first couple sips are always a little startling, after that it starts to grow on you..I think…maybe..
Don’t worry folks, if this is not enough cold refreshment for you this summer, I’ve got at least two more in my back pocket coming, on top of last year’s frozen coconut limeade.
Lesson Learned: Even when you’re feeling unsuspectingly casual and lazy-looking without a stitch of makeup on a Sunday afternoon, you might still concede to post a video that includes your mug in it, in the interest of telling the world about the DIY espresso tonic your household experienced..shrug.
But seriously, next time I might try muddling the rosemary** a little, and maybe adding a few crushed berries for a sweet, tart flavor.

*I actually drink tonic water on its own sometimes, no gin.   On the advice of one of my docs, the quinine in it supposedly helps with nocturnal leg cramps -so painful they wake me up. The internet, however, indicates that docs no longer prescribe quinine for anything besides malaria due to strong side effects (beyond the crazy dreams, I’m guessing). I have to assume that tonic water has much lower amounts of it than a prescription, though. However, if you are after quinine in tonic water, read the bottle labels carefully. Sometimes it’s just sugar water without any actual tonic-ness.

**From the garden out back! Hooray!