February 2011

As you probably know (based on this website’s headline above), I fancy food and vintage things.  I fancy them a lot.  So, it’s probably not a surprise that I love vintage cookware.  Recently, I’ve been a little obsessed with vintage pyrex kitchen glasswares.  Not only are they all just adorable, they’re known for their lasting durability.

Aren’t these just amazing?

This is my vintage pyrex cabinet:

Am I lucky or what?  Try not to be too jealous please.  I’d like to keep our friendship.

Okay, I lied.  I do not have a cabinet full of these adorable vintage pyrex pieces hoarded away.  I don’t even own one vintage pyrex piece (my mom does though! Does that count??).  Sigh.  I know.  I’m such an imposter.  And liar.  But, a girl can dream, right?

And, can you blame me???  They’re just soo cute!  Just look:

OOOHHHH …

AHHHH …

EEEEE!!!

Okay, I’m a little excited here.

This only means I need to start my own collection.  ASAP.

I found a great book recently on everything you would want to know about pyrex, and more:  Pyrex:  The Unauthorized Collector’s Guide

It’s currently in my Amazon wishlist.  I think I’ll get it when I actually get a few pyrex pieces.  :)

My recent obsession with vintage pyrex started when I stumbled upon www.pyrexlove.com, which is a great website on vintage pyrex.  It has a lot of helpful information about vintage pryex – from how to care for your pyrex to the different collections that are out there.  They also sell vintage pyrex, which is pretty cool for those lazy people (and by lazy people, I mean me) who don’t go antiquing.

Maybe I’ll stop by a Goodwill or flea market this weekend …

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Chinese tea eggs (cha ye dan) are healthy and flavorful snack foods popular in China.  Don’t they look cooler than your boring ol’ hard boiled egg?

I had a craving for them this weekend and decided to make some for the week.  You see, I rarely have the time to make breakfast in the morning before I have to rush to work (what can I say, I’m lazy and enjoy sleeping in as long as possible).  So having a tea egg on the go (i.e., while driving to work) is great.

Tea eggs are basically hard boiled eggs stewed in a black tea, soy sauce and spices mix.  They’re not only very flavorful and healthy, they are also really cheap and easy to make at home.  Getting the marbling effect on the egg’s surface is simply the easy process of cracking the egg when it’s at a partially-cooked stage.

You really only need a few ingredients (most of which are probably in your kitchen).

You start out with a dozen eggs (you can also half the recipe if you’d like).

Bring the eggs to boil and let it simmer for a few minutes.  Remove the eggs.

Using the base of the knife, crack the eggs in a few spots.  This will allow the tea mixture/sauce to seep into the egg.

Before putting the eggs back into the pot.  Let’s make the tea mixture.

Here’s some star anise.  You can find probably find them at your local grocer in the specialty foods/spices aisle, but they’re definitely available at any Asian market.  Break the star anise apart.

I like to keep these in a mesh tea ball.  You can also just throw them into the pot without one of these.

Add the star anise, some tea, soy sauce, sugar, cinnamon and salt into the pot.  Stir all the ingredients together.

Put the eggs back into the pot and let it simmer (low to medium heat) for 2-4 hours.  The longer you let them simmer and stew, the more flavorful the egg will be.

Once the eggs are cooked, you can eat them hot or cold as a snack.  I personally like them warm when the yolk center is still soft.

These are great breakfast, on-the-go, options.  You can also serve this over some ramen or fried rice.   It’s also a great alternative travel snack to  your typical trial mix or granola (for those who like to go hiking or camping).

Here’s the recipe:

Chinese Tea Eggs

Print this Recipe!

Makes 12 servings
Prep Time:  15 minutes
Total Cooking Time:  2-3 hours

Ingredients

  • 12 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons or 3 tea bags black tea
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon  sugar
  • 6 pieces star anise
  • 2 cinnamon stick or 1 tablespoon cinnamon powder

Directions

  1. Put eggs in a large pot with enough water to cover the eggs.
  2. Bring water to boil, then to medium heat to simmer for 3 minutes.
  3. Remove eggs from heat.  With the head of the knife, tap each egg to slightly crack the shell in 2-3 places evening around the egg.  Be careful because the eggs will be hot.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients into the simmering pot and stir to blend them together.
  5. Return the cracked eggs back into the pot.
  6. Cover and simmer for at least 1 hour.  The longer the eggs are allowed to simmer with the tea mixture, the more intense the flavor and color of the tea eggs.  I like to keep it simmering for 4 hours.
  7. Add water periodically if necessary.
  8. Remove the eggs after they have simmered for the desired amount of time.  Serve hot or cold as a snack or a side dish to a meal.

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I’m normally the lip balm/chapstick type of gal, maybe lightly tinted lipgloss when I want to dress it up, but lately, I’ve been wanting to add lipstick to the mix.  A friend recently introduced me to Tom Ford’s new line, the Private Blend Lip Color Collection, which came out last May.  The line comes in 12 classic shades and is made with rare ingredients like soja seed extract, Brazilian murumuru butter and chamomilla flower oil.

Tom Ford Private Blend Lip Color

Tom Ford is probably one of the best U.S. fashion designers and really knows what looks amazing on women.  So, when I found out he had a lipstick line, I was curiously interested.  :).  Plus, it’s gorgeous.

The only catch is the price tag.  It’s $45.  It took me several weeks to decide to take the leap and decide to buy one.  Yes, it’s expensive.  But, this is not your local drugstore option.  This lipstick is extremely creamy and the formulation helps the color stay put, so there’s really no need to reapply all the time.

Now the question is, what color should I get?

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If you are passionate about food and cooking like I am, you know that a cook’s essentials are the keys to making consistently great food.   There are some essential tried-and-true items that should be staples to any kitchen repertoire.  Although they may seem pricier than what you’d find at your local Target or Walmart, trust me, they are well worth it and will last you a lifetime (if not longer).

A cook’s essentials are the foundation of a good meal.  Plus, they’re all so pretty to look at!  (I am vain — I like things pretty.   There, I said it.  I feel much better now for fully disclosing that.  …. I hope we can still be friends after this.)

Here are the items that top my cook’s essentials list:

1. Good set of knives.

Wusthof Classic

An old acquaintance of mine was a sous chef for the famous Thomas Keller restaurant, Per Se, in New York City.  I asked him what was a good set of knives.  He listed several high qualify brands (i.e., Wusthof, Global, Shun, and Henckels), but said that these are all great knives, so when looking for a good set of knives, you should base your purchase decision on your own personal preferences.

When I was first shopping for knives, I wanted a Global knife set, because that is what Giada de Laurentiis uses, and I absolutely love her shows.  I have all her cookbooks and I find her recipes relatively easy with great results.  I met her at a book signing, and she was just so adorable and down-to-earth.  Ok, umm, sorry for that tangent … I have a tendency to get this way when Giada is brought up.

Anyway, so I ended up choosing a Wusthof knift set instead because Global knives are on the lighter end for knives and I prefer a little weight on my knives.  So far, I really enjoy using these and am completely happy with my ultimate purchase decision.

2.  KitchenAid Stand Mixer

KitchenAid Artisan 5-Quart Stand Mixer in Pistaccio

Now, isn’t she just adorable?  My KitchenAid Stand Mixer is probably one of my favorite kitchen pieces.   It comes in sooo many different colors.  I really think the hardest part in buying this is to pick the color that you want.  I ended up getting this pistaccio color, and love it.  Besides it being so cute in my kitchen, it’s versatile and can do almost anything (especially with all the available attachments KitchenAid offers).   Also, these things last forever.  I’ve seen some KitchenAid Stand Mixers that are more than 20 years old and are still working perfectly.

3.  Le Creuset French Oven

Le Creuset 5 1/2 Quart Round French Oven in Carribean

Again, isn’t it so pretty (remember, I said I was vain?)?  I love this on my kitchen stove.  Unlike my other pots and pans, this one stays out and adds to the decor of my kitchen (yes, I like a lot of color in my kitchen).   Deciding on the color, size and shape was difficult for me … it took me 2 months of deciding (I wish I was joking).   After much (and then some) deliberation, I got the round 5 1/2 quart french oven Le Creuset in carribean.

I’m always surprised as to how much I use my french oven.   They are so versatile and can be used to make anything from soups, stews, and pot roasts, to braised short ribs, and to no-knead bread.  It has great even-heat distribution and heat retention, which will cook food uniformly.  Also, I love that I can use this on both the stove and in the oven, which is invaluable in cooking.   Plus, they’re so durable, they will literally last for decades.  Oh my, I’m gushing.  Sorry.

4.  A good set of pots and pans.

All-Clad Cooper Core 7-Piece Cookware Set

All-Clad is probably the best cookware available on the market.  A lot of chefs use it for it’s versatility and durability.  When I asked my sous chef friend, mentioned above, what he recommended for cookware, he said All-Clad hands down.  Knives, you can be flexible with, but for cookware, All-Clad is the best.  He also said that you don’t really need all the different pots and pans available.  You really only need the ones cooks use most often – sauce pan, fry pan, saute pan, and stockpot.  The All-Clad Cooper Core 7-piece Cookware Set is perfect for that.  They just make me happy.  But, if you don’t want to get the whole set, just yet, I recommend getting the All-Clad 12-inch Fry Pan with Lid — it’s honestly the cookware that gets the most use in kitchens.  :)

5.  Good cookbooks.

I love buying cookbooks … it’s kind of a problem.  But don’t worry, I’m working on it.

Here are some of my favorite cookbooks:

Everyday Italian:  125 Simple and Delicious Recipes by Giada de Laurentiis.
Oh, have I told you, I kind of love Giada?  These are some great simple and staple Italian food recipes.  All her other cookbooks are great too, but this was her first, and it’s a classic.

Everyday Italian Cookbook by Giada de Laurentis

The Barefood Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten
Something about her food is so comforting and delicious.  Maybe it’s her insistence on using fresh and quality ingredients.  Maybe it’s her generous use of butter (ding ding ding!).   Whatever it is, I’m on board!  Her recipes are great, and the pictures in this cookbook makes you want to make the recipe right away.

The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten

Mastering the Art of French Cooking (2 Volume Set) by Julia Child
Now how can we forget about Julia Child?  This is probably a good staple cookbook for those who love French cooking.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook: Strategies, Recipes and Techniques of Classic Bistro Cooking by Anthony Bourdain
Sigh.  Oh, what I wouldn’t give to have Anthony Bourdain’s life.  (Well, maybe not the part about being a man.)  Traveling around the world and experiencing amazing food, and getting paid to do it?!  Life is just not fair.  My only consolation is that I can live it vicariously through his show, No Reservations on the Travel Channel.  Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook is a well written book with both great recipes and great techniques and directions on how to create them.

Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook by Anthony Bourdain

Momofuku by David Chang
If you haven’t been to be any of David Chang’s Momofuku restaurants in New York City, you should!  In fact, you should go right now!  No really, now!  If you have been to one, then you must understand this urgency (I’m not crazy.  Well … ok, that’s not relevant here).  This is a great cookbook where he has included step-by-step recipes to some of his most popular dishes (like the pork belly buns!  To die for!).  Be forewarn, David Chang has a tendency to swear and throw the F-bomb around generously in his book.

Momofuku by David Chang

Well folks, there you have it, my cook’s essentials list.  What’s in your cook’s essentials list that you’d recommend?

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photo courtesy of http://savory-bites.com.

Are you drooling?  I don’t blame you.  One of my favorite street foods while living in Los Angeles was the elote.  Elote is a popular street food in Mexico (as well as southern California) and is basically their version of grilled corn. This simple and delicious dish is such a hit, it is THE must-order item at the famous SOHO restaurant, Cafe Habana, in New York City.

So naturally, while in NYC this weekend, I convinced two friends (elote virgins) to stand in line for a hour to eat at Cafe Habana.  I, of course, ordered the grilled corn, which comes with two ears of corn, and had them all to myself.  My friends shared an order.  I’m sure they regretted that decision.  And to be honest, I wanted even more.  But, alas, my full stomach resisted.  Sigh, the elote was just as delicious as the first time I had it 6 years ago.

And because it’s Valentine’s Day, because I love recreating amazing dishes I’ve had at restaurants, and because I’m oh so nice, I thought I’d let you know how to make these delicious bites of heavenly goodness.

Elote is actually very easy to make, and has always been a hit at barbeques or dinner  parties when I make them.  I mean,  corn lathered with butter, mayo, cheese, and chili powder and a squirt of lime … who can resist?

Elote – Mexican Grilled Corn

Print this Recipe!

8 Servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 ears of corn, shucked
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 grated cotija cheese (if you can’t find this, parmasan cheese can be a substitute)
  • chilli powder
  • 8 wedges of lime

Directions

  1. Preheat your grill for medium-high heat.
  2. Grill corn until hot and lightly charred all over (7-10 minutes).
  3. Brush the corn with some melted butter.
  4. Spread evenly some mayonnaise on the corn.
  5. Sprinkle the grated cotija/parmasan cheese over the corn.
  6. Sprinkle some chilli powder over the corn. Be careful here, if you can’t tolerate too much heat, don’t over sprinkle here.   But definitely sprinkle some chilli powder, as this definitely adds a kick to the corn.
  7. Squeeze a lime wedge over the corn.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

photo courtesy of http://savory-bites.com/.

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