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.


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:


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):

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.


we had another delicious thanksgiving this year. there was a ton of food and leftovers, but i LOVE thanksgiving leftovers. it means i can eat ham for breakfast, lunch, and dinner :D

here’s the big feast:

thanksgiving feast

mr. taketa made the turkey, mrs. taketa made mashed potatoes, aunt ivy made potato egg salad, marci and craig made vietnamese rolls and spinach cream rolls, grandma made stuffing, aunt gwen brought rum cake, and we made roasted red pepper dip, green beans, ham, and cranberry apple pie. everything was great!

roasted red pepper dip
from eggs on sunday

roasted red pepper dip

Adapted from Vegetarian Classics by Jeanne Lemlin
1 can white beans (Great Northern, cannellini, navy, etc.) — drained and rinsed
1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers (homemade or from a jar, patted dry)
1/2 tsp coarse salt
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp paprika
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Variation: omit the cumin and add in 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Place the drained beans, red peppers, salt, cumin (or basil), paprika, garlic cloves, olive oil, and vinegar in a food processor. Blitz until smooth. Serve as is, or refrigerate until later.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

comments: roasted red peppers are so good. we bought a bag of red peppers at costco, so we roasted 3 of them for this recipe. we also bought broccoli and carrots from costco. dude, costco is so dangerous. i want to buy everything there. THE MORE I BUY, THE MORE I SAVE. anyway, the dip was good, kinda similar to hummus, next time we might add something to make it a little spicy.

spicy parmesan green beans and kale
from everyday italian (giada de laurentiis)

green beans

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1/4 pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered (about 14 mushrooms)
1 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed and slice into 1-inch pieces
2 teaspoons salt (TOO MUCH)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bunch kale (1/2 pound), rinsed, stemmed, and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon)
3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan

Warm the olive oil in a large, heavy saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms, green beans, salt, and pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Add the wine and continue cooking until the green beans are almost tender, about 5 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and the kale and continue cooking until the kale has wilted, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice and the Parmesan cheese. Toss to coat and serve immediately.

comments: ok first of all, i gotta say in general, i don’t really trust giada. i guess the thing that gets me is she doesn’t eat regular portions of her food. she said she just eats really small portions. small portions are fine for her, but if it’s different for me if i’m going to eat her food as a regular meal, esp all those really rich recipes where she puts in tons of cheese, fries a lot of stuff, etc. i’m not mrs. healthy, but i have my limits… plus food tastes different depending on how much you eat of it. like one time i had this asian spaghetti with seaweed, pickles, and a soy sauce based sauce. it was really good for the first few bites, but it was really unpleasant by the end of the meal because it was too salty and i got tired of the taste.

anyway, despite my mistrust, i actually really liked this recipe. maybe we can trust her when she doesn’t go insane with the cheese/cream/butter. all the elements work well together, nice flavors. i am starting to like kale a lot. oh, one thing is she calls for too much salt. the first time we made this, it was way too salty. this time we added about 1 tsp and that was perfect. just add to taste. nice beans from costco.

the love of my life

heavenly ham

mr. ham (pineapple mango maple syrup glaze)

cranberry apple pie
from atk (don’t know how long this video link will be up)

pie assembly

i saw this in the atk newsletter, and it sounded really good. i used tyler florence’s crust recipe (the one for the peach/nectarine pies) because i like that crust a lot. maybe i should have made a thicker crust though. next time i’ll try the atk pie recipe. the pie was delicious! there was only one piece left at the end of the night. the cranberry part was really yummy by itself actually. i’d just eat that stuff straight. you could probably use it as cranberry sauce too.

cranberry apple pie