Monday, January 28, 2008

Variations on a theme of lemongrass

Since I still have a billion stalks of lemongrass, I've been trying to think of ways to use it up. I just made some more lemongrass vodka for my 5 PM smart cocktail and rubbed some bruised lemongrass on my neck and wrists. I also just made some lemongrass hand and cuticle cream, so what else? What else?

While in Laos I never sampled the grilled fish stuffed with lemongrass for one reason or another, and while I sampled plenty of the $0.30 oh-so-cheap-and-delicious dark Beerlao, I always told myself I'd try the fish. I guess I was too drunk or something.

Anyway, tonight for dinner I made a one-pot meal consisting of whole rainbow trout stuffed with lemongrass stalks and asparagus. After preheating my broiler I patted the fish dry and seasoned the inside and outside of the fish with salt and pepper. Using the back of my knife I bruised the lemongrass and stuffed it in the fish. To prep the asparagus I just drizzled with some olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.

I hate hate hate cleaning, so I used aluminum foil to cover my baking pan. Six minutes per side and the flesh was perfect. I usually only broil asparagus for 7-9 minutes total but I was too lazy to add it later, hence the one-pot meal, or should I say one-baking pan meal. Still delicious, though!

Seriously, if you aren't squeamish about whole fish, try this one out let me know what you think. The fish is juicy with the most subtle hint of lemongrass. Takes me straight back to Laos...or what I think the fish would've tasted like had I actually been smart enough to eat it. It almost doesn't need the lime, but I love acid. Especially in the forest...what?

Wish you could have a bite and you should!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Rainy weather, hot chocolate

Having lived in New York before heading to Los Angeles, I'm ashamed to say that I get cold when the weather dips below 80 degrees. However, it's a great excuse to drink plenty of hot liquids, especially during this rainy "season." I know a couple of people who don't enjoy hot drinks. That makes me sad, but then I'll make myself an earl grey latte and be happy again. Yippee!

So my brother asked me for a hot chocolate recipe, and because I change it up every time I wanted to make sure I could give him exact measurements. Here's how I made mine (the other day...). Who knows what today may bring?

1 cup milk (whole if you want to be super indulgent)
1/4 cup half & half
2 oz. freshly chopped dark chocolate, preferably 71% Valrhona
1 heaping T unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Valrhona or Scharffenberger
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 T sugar, or to taste
pinch of salt

Whisk together ingredients over low heat until melted and hot and delicious. Top off with freshly whipped cream and a sprig of mint. Or just drink it like I did, but don't burn your tongue (like I did.)

Wish you could have a cocoa-licious sip,

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

LEMONGRASS: I can't get enough

First it was lemongrass deodorant, then lemongrass vodka, and now lemongrass beef? What next? (Probably lemongrass tea, which is SO hard to find, right? Guess I'll have to make it myself.)

Anyway, you think I'd be sick of Vietnamese food after eating it for a month straight...well, I guess I cheated a lot. Man, I was surprised by the pizza in Vietnam. Quite delicious, actually! A huge improvement over when I was there 6 years ago when "lasagna" was nothing more than slices of American cheddar cheese and a can of Campbell's tomato soup. But ANYWAY, lemongrass beef is one of the easiest dishes you can make.

Here's how I make it...but I don't really measure stuff out so here's an approximation:

3-4 T of minced lemongrass (use a Cuisinart...huge time and CTS saver)
3-4 cloves of minced garlic
2 T Hoison sauce
1 T fish sauce
freshly grated black pepper
3 T Canola oil
1/2 lb. of thinly sliced beef

serve over:
rice vermicelli, cooked al dente

serve with:
Thai basil

fish sauce:
2 parts fish sauce
1 part lime juice
2 parts hot water
sugar to taste
Thai chile, sliced
1 clove of garlic, sliced

lime soda:
2 T simple syrup
2 T lime juice
sparkling water

I used skirt steak this last time and it was amazingly delicious. Cut against the grain and you'll have the most tender beef ever. Placing it in the freezer for an hour also helps you maintain control over your slices.

Mix all ingredients. Saute in a hot hot dry skillet for just a few minutes until just done.

Serve over rice vermicelli noodles and drizzle with fish sauce. For the fish sauce, dissolve about 2 T of sugar per half cup of water. My fish sauce changes every time because I don't accurately measure, but it's always good :) Fresh lime juice, ALWAYS.

For the lime soda, same thing...equal part simple syrup to lime juice, ice, and sparkling water. Yummy. A popular Vietnamese drink accompaniment to this dish as well as pho, except for some reason, no one ever uses simple syrup so all the sugar settles on the bottom!!! Don't make this mistake, unless you want to be really authentic :)

You can probably find more accurate measurements, but I'm too lazy to measure stuff (unless I'm baking.) Enjoy!!!

Wish you could have a bite,

Monday, January 21, 2008


I remember when I was in Italy 8 years ago (wow) enjoying breakfast when an American voice boomed out, "Do you have REGULAR orange juice?" Oh my goodness I wanted to punch them in the freakin' face. Io non sono Americana...errr...Ich bin ein Berliner?

There's nothing more beautiful than the marbling of an arancia rosa. Che bella. And when you squeeze that juicy goodness into a martini, it's like drinking in the sunset in Sorrento. Or 3rd Beach in Cape Town. Or Angkor Wat. get the point.

Apparently today is the most depressing day of the year, so make yourself a martini!

Here's how I make mine:

2 parts vodka (plain or mandarin)
1 part Cointreau or Grand Marnier
1 part fresh lime juice (please none of the bottle stuff)
1 part fresh blood orange juice

Shake vigorously with ice and serve in chilled martini glasses. Or not. Garnish with zest of orange.

Wish you could have a sip,

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Happy New Year!

I'm back in America...thank goodness. Although I'm an extremely adventurous food eater, I am so glad to be back in my own kitchen cooking my own food. Eating out for 6 weeks isn't as glamorous as it sounds.

Pictured here is an evening picnic I enjoyed in Siem Reap, Cambodia. We ate every single part of the chicken...intestines wrapped around livers on a stick with the heart and the egg. Mmmm...???

Happy new year to everyone! Many blogs to follow I hope :) I feel like 2008 is going to be a good year for food.