new knife

here’s our new knife that we ordered on amazon. right now it’s only $20 (list price is $41)!

knife

no offense to our other knife, but i think this is my new favorite knife. it’s so easy to cut everything! makes chopping things fun :D these forschner knives have been really good and are really reasonably priced.

banana leaf pasta cafe

we saw this new italian restaurant called banana leaf pasta cafe at mccully shopping center, and the menu sounded pretty good, so we tried it out.

the restaurant has a nice casual modern decor. they play concert dvd’s in the background. andrea bocelli and sting were on when we went there. cameron said he used to think sting the singer and sting the wrestler were the same person. anyway, it’s very nice.

so we got the calamari as an appetizer, plus they give everyone tasty bread:

calimari

good bread is always a good sign. it was nice and hot when we got it. the calamari had a small salad too, which was nice.

cameron got the spaghetti and meatballs, and i got the chicken pasta:

chicken pasta

both were really good! we both really liked their tomato sauce. the vegetables were also good, and the chicken had a nice texture and flavor – maybe they fried it first? cameron is like mr. meatball, and he really liked the ones here. there was like a strong cheese taste or something that i didn’t like as much, but that’s just me.

anyway, we went there again the other day and got the $15 special – soup or salad, choice of main dish, and ice cream for dessert. we both got it, so we had the minestrone and cream of tomato soups, vegetable lasagna and chicken alfredo, and vanilla ice cream. all really good! especially the two soups. i’m a big soup person, and i thought both were great. lots of summery veggies in the minestrone with a nice light soup and nice creamy balance of flavors in the cream of tomato. the vegetable lasagna was kind of like a more dainty lasagna – usually lasagna is like super rich and cheesy and cut from a big casserole of lasagna. this one was individually made, didn’t have much cheese, the tomato sauce was not thick like it sometimes is, and the flavors weren’t so in your face – different than how i expected, but still very good. cameron liked the chicken alfredo a lot, esp the chicken (like the chicken i had the other time) and the strong garlic flavor in the sauce. and the dessert was good too – some ice cream with chocolate syrup and whipped cream.

so we’ll definitely be eating here again. nothing has disappointed so far! also, they have a bistro restaurant at market city shopping center, so next time we’ll have to try that out. YUM.

banana leaf pasta cafe
1960 kapiolani blvd. #103
honolulu, hi 96813
808-946-3338

pot roast – first appearance of le creuset!

my brother and his wife got us the GORGEOUS and awesome “kiwi” le creuset as our early wedding present. they are so nice :)

so for the first recipe, we made a pot roast to help feed nice friends who were helping us with wedding stuff. we got the recipe from the nice atk best slow and easy recipes book that cameron’s parents got for us.

DISCLAIMER: cameron says the picture below doesn’t look appetizing at all, but really, it looks good in real life and it tastes good. next time i’ll try to take better pictures.

pot roast with root vegetables

pot roast

1 (3.5 – 4 lb.) boneless beef chuck eye roast, pulled apart into 2 pieces, trimmed, and tied
salt and pepper
2 tbsp veggie oil
1 medium onion, diced medium
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced medium
1.5 lb. carrots, pelled and sliced 1/2″ thick
1 celery rib, diced medium
1 lb. parsnips, peeled and slice 1/2″thick
1.5 lb. small red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1″ pieces
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp fresh minced thyme leaves or 1/4 tsp dried
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup low-sodium beef broth
1 cup water
1/4 cup dry red wine (atk recommends a $7 to $10 bottle of medium-bodied red table wine made from a blend of grapes, such at cotes du rhone)

1. adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 300 degrees. pat the roasts dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. brown the roasts on all sides, 7 to 10 minutes, reducing the heat if the pot begins to scorch. transfer the roasts to a large plate.

pot roast

2. add the remaining 1 tbsp of oil to the pot and place over medium heat until shimmering. add the onion, diced carrot, celery, and 1/4 tsp salt and cook, stirring often, until softened, 8-10 minutes. stir in the garlic, sugar, and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. stir in the broths and water, scraping up any browned bits, and bring to a simmer.

3. nestle the roasts, along with any accumulated juices, into the pot and bring to a simmer. cover, place the pot in the oven, and cook until the meat is very ttender and a fork poked into it meets little resistance, 3-3.5 hours, turning the roasts every hour.

4. remove the pot from the oven. transfer the roasts to a cutting board and tent loosely with foil while finishing the sauce. defat the braising liquid.

5. add the sliced carrots and parsnips + red potatoes to the defatted liquid in the pot.

add veggies

cover and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. transfer the vegetables to a large bowl with a slotted spoon and cover to keep warm. add the wine to the liquid left in the pot and continue to simmer until the sauce measures about 1.5 cups. slice the meat against the grain into 1/4″ slices and transfer to a serving platter. spoon the sauce over the mean and vegetables and serve.

comments: yum yum yum, this was good! the meat was really tender and it all tasted good. we used bone-in roast because that’s what we found at the grocery store and forgot to tie it, but that didn’t seem to be a problem. this is the first time we’ve eaten parsnips. actually we only could find them at star market in cam shopping center. they taste kinda like carrots, but a little sweeter and the taste is a little stronger. tasted really good in the pot roast, along with the carrots and potatoes.

i thought it was interesting that they add just a little wine at the very end to make the sauce. in the book they said cooking the meat in the red wine made it taste too strong. anyway, i liked the sauce a lot.

paintings

i haven’t painted anything in a few years, so i thought i might have forgotten, but actually i got a lot better! i painted two as christmas presents – one for my parents, one for my brother and his wife – and another as a birthday present for my mom.

here’s my 12″x9″ version of van gogh’s mountainous landscape behind saint paul hospital (1889) for my brother and his wife:

wing mountains

the sky turned out way better that i expected. the field was kinda hard and still has some issues. next time i gotta get a smaller brush. i like it though.

next is my 12″x9″ version of van gogh’s wheat field with young wheat and rising sun (1889) for my parents:

field

i think this one is my favorite of the three. i love the original one by van gogh because it’s so vibrant and warm. the field came out pretty well.

and here’s my 14″x18″ version of monet’s poplars on the banks of the river epte (1900):

poplars
i think everyone else likes this one the best. i didn’t like it that much right after i painted it, but it’s growing on me. this one is larger, so i got in more of the details. this is the first one i painted, so i was most rusty. i think next time i can do a little better with monet.

i just finished reading this great book i borrowed from the library titled van gogh – master draughtsman. this is like the first art book that i have read from start to finish. really good. i never really saw any of van gogh’s drawings before reading this book, but man, they are awesome. i think i like his drawings even more than his paintings! it was also interesting to follow his development as an artist from this perspective. he really worked at his art. like he started out as nothing special (his early drawings weren’t so good actually), worked really hard and deliberately at improving, and then, well then he turned out to be like a genius.

anyway, hopefully i can paint more and get better!

food resolutions for 2009

my brother inspired me to make some food resolutions for 2009:

1. cook more – right now we usually only cook twice a week. after march, we’ll have to cook more anyway, so that’s good.

2. learn how to use our new babies – my brother and jen gave us two early wedding presents – 12″ all clad fry pan and 7.25 qt. le creuset (kiwi). they are so beautiful.

3. learn about wine – i still have notes from tom mannion’s wine class… something to start after march.

4. learn more of mom’s recipes – mom’s food is still my favorite.

5. learn how to bake a good batch of chocolate chip cookies – mine always don’t turn out right.

6. cook more mushrooms and fish – i am getting over my mushroom phobia, and cameron is trying to let cooked fish back into his life. he said he was traumatized as a child when his parents tricked him into eating fish by claiming it was chicken. anyway, we are both making progress!

7. blog more – hopefully after march.

anyway, this christmas we received two new cookbooks (atk family baking book and atk best slow & easy recipes), plus me and cameron bought each other two cookbooks (barefoot contessa back to basics for me and two meatballs in the italian kitchen for cameron). lots of new recipes to try!

looking forward to march when the madness will be over! also excited about having our own fridge and kitchen.