july 4 dinner

my mom said i should try to keep up my blog… good advice, mom!

anyway, on july 4 i made a five course gluten-free meal (also dairy free and nut free) for ten people. first course: corn chex crusted fried shrimp with a basil lemon aioli and some bell pepper confetti. this dish was cameron’s idea. corn chex is an excellent gluten-free frying material. it’s good for making chicken tenders too.

second course: kalua pork taco with fresh salsa on a freshly made corn tortilla. i started making my own corn tortillas with masa harina (buy it at the store and just add water and salt). i like them a lot better than the ones you buy in the store. the kalua pork is made in the oven with some salt and liquid smoke. local cocktail tomatoes with some jalapeno, onions, cilantro, lime juice, and salt.

course three: red and green lettuces grown in maui, locally grown corn, tomatoes, and cucumbers with a strawberry lemon vinaigrette. the maui lettuce we get at costco. i like salad with all these good fresh ingredients 🙂

main course: mochiko chicken (no shoyu so gluten free) with sweet chili sauce (orange from food coloring…), tamaki gold rice, and kale with some caramelized onions and dried cranberries (if this wasn’t a nut-free meal, i like to toss in some toasted chopped pecans or other nuts). this mochiko chicken recipe is cameron’s favorite from all the gluten-free stuff we tried during his food sensitivity diet. i’ll post the recipe later.

dessert: gluten-free angel food cake with fresh strawberry sauce and a chocolate soy anglaise. the angel food cake has some tapioca flour, rice flour, corn starch, and potato starch.

anyway, it was a good meal, and i think everyone enjoyed the food. the gluten-free/dairy-free lady who came also got some new ideas to incorporate into her cooking so that’s good. i guess i learned a lot during the six months we were cooking gluten-free!

slow roasted pork sandwich

a while ago there was one of those 40% off borders coupons so we picked up this book:

wichcraft book

it’s recipes from tom colicchio’s (judge on top chef) ‘wichcraft sandwich shops. the main reason i wanted to get this book is we already made one of the sandwiches in it, and that sandwich is one of the best sandwiches i’ve had. also, there are gorgeous pictures of every sandwich, which is always nice in a cookbook.

a lot of these sandwiches are pretty involved but the results are delicious so it’s worth it. i really love a good sandwich 🙂

slow-roasted pork with red cabbage, jalapeños, and mustard

from ‘wichcraft by tom colicchio with sisha ortuzar
makes four sandwiches


1 tbsp caraway seeds
3 whole cloves
1 star anise
1/2 tbsp black peppercorns
1/2 cup kosher salt
1 (1.25-1.5 lb.) boneless pork shoulder
2 cups shredded or thinly sliced red cabbage
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 ciabatta rolls
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 large jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced

1. preheat the oven to 250F. combine the caraway, cloves, star anise, and peppercorns in a spice grinder and process utnil they have the courseness of salt. combine the spices with salt.

2. rub the pork vigorously with the spice mixture until completely covered. any spice mixture that doesn’t stick to the meat an be removed. place the meat in a roasting pan, cover tightly, and cook in the oven for about 4 hours. the meat should be fork-tender and some of the fat should have rendered into the bottom of the pan. transfer the meat to a plate and discard the fat from the pan.

3. increase the oven heat to 350F. in a bowl, combine the cabbage, oil, and vinegar and season generously with salt and pepper. the cabbage should taste quite salty and tangy.

4. slice the ciabatta rolls in half. spread the mustard evenly across the bottom halves. using a couple of forks, pull the roasted pork apart and distribute some on the bottom and top halves.


5. place the bread in the oven and remove when the bread is lightly toasted and the meat is heated through. add the cabbage on the bottom halves and top withe jalapeño. close the sandwiches, cut into halves, and serve.


comments: yum, this sandwich is quite good. it’s a really nice combo of flavors and textures with the salty pork, tangy crunchy cabbage, spiciy jalapeños, sour mustard, and toasted ciabatta bread. good to have some kettle chips as a side too.

it’s not very difficult, but you gotta be home for a few hours while the pork cooks in the oven. the pork turned out a little bit too salty for our taste, so maybe next time i won’t rub in as much salt.

superbowl food

the superbowl ended up being a really exciting game, but initially i was mostly excited about making food!


we decided to make nachos, slaw, and AWESOME sandwiches. it was way too much food, but oh well!

super nachos
from 30 minute meals with rachael ray


2 bags corn tortilla chips in 2 colors or different flavors, such as blue corn, red corn, yellow corn, lime flavored, chili flavored or black bean chips — pick 2 favorites

Pico de Gallo Salsa:
4 vine ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped, for medium to hot heat level
1 small white onion, chopped
1/4 cup, 2 handfuls, cilantro leaves, finely chopped — substitute parsley if cilantro is not to your liking

Beef and Beans Topping:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound ground sirloin
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dark chili powder
1 1/2 ground cumin, half a palmful
2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper sauce, giving you medium to hot heat level
1 can black beans, 15 ounces, drained

Cheese Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
3/4 pound pepper jack cheese, shredded, about 2 1/2 cups

Additional toppings to choose from, optional:
Sour cream
Chopped scallions
Chopped black olives
Diced pimento
Sliced avocado, dressed with lemon juice
Hot pepper sauces

Arrange a mixture of 2 varieties of corn chips on a very large platter or use your broiler pan as a platter.Combine salsa ingredients in a bowl and set aside for flavors to marry.

Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add oil, garlic, onion and peppers to the pan and saute 2 minutes, then add meat and crumble with wooden spoon. Season meat with salt, chili powder, cumin and cayenne pepper sauce. Cook meat 5 minutes, then stir in beans and reduce heat to low.

In a medium sauce pot, melt butter and add flour to it. Cook flour and butter 1 to 2 minutes over moderate heat, then whisk in milk. When milk comes to a bubble, stir in cheese with a wooden spoon. Remove cheese sauce from the heat.

Pour cheese sauce evenly over the massive spread of chips and top evenly with beef and beans and the pico de gallo. UBER NACHOS! Serve immediately as is or, garnish with your choice of extra toppings from the toppings list.

comments: the pico de gallo was yummy, but then we messed up on the cheese sauce. we bought half the sauce, but forgot to use less milk! oh well.

super slaw
from epicurious.com


6 tablespoons rice vinegar
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic

5 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
2 large red or yellow bell peppers, cut into matchstick-size strips
2 medium carrots, peeled, cut into matchstick-size strips
8 large green onions, cut into matchstick-size strips
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Whisk first 7 ingredients in small bowl to blend. (Dressing can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before continuing.)

Combine remaining ingredients in large bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

comments: this slaw was pretty good. kind of different i guess. usually i’m used to slaws being kind of creamy/mayonnaisy or more acidic. it might have had a little too much peanut butter, but overall it was good.

‘wichcraft’s sandwich
from epicurious.com (tom colicchio)


For onion relish
2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup red-wine vinegar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

For aïoli
1 egg yolk
1/2 clove garlic, minced (about 1/2 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 ounce white-wine vinegar
4 ounces grape seed oil
1 ounce olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon pepperoncini or cayenne pepper

For sandwiches
1 pound roasted turkey breast, sliced (use your thanksgiving leftovers!)
4 ciabatta rolls
12 slices bacon
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced

Make onion relish:
In heavy medium pot, combine onions and enough water to cover and bring to boil, then strain. Return onions to pot and add sugar, red wine vinegar, and balsamic vinegar. Place over moderate heat and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until onions are completely tender and have no bite left, about one and a half hours. (The liquid should be syrupy and coat the onions.) Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Make aïoli:
In food processor or blender, purée yolk, garlic, mustard, and vinegar until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Combine oils, then, with motor running, slowly drizzle into processor until completely emulsified, about 2 minutes. (If aïoli gets too thick, add a small amount of warm water, 1 teaspoon at a time.) Sprinkle in salt, pepper, and pepperoncini, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cook bacon:
In large, heavy skillet over moderate heat, cook 6 slices bacon, turning occasionally, until crisp, then transfer with tongs to paper towel–lined plate to drain. Repeat with remaining 6 slices. Set aside.

Assemble sandwiches:
Slice each ciabatta in half and place on large baking sheet. Place 4 ounces turkey on each of four ciabatta bottoms, then spread onion relish over meat. Lay 3 slices bacon on each of 4 ciabatta tops.

sandwich pre-oven

Transfer baking sheet to oven and toast until bacon is crispy and edges of ciabatta turn light golden brown, about 5 minutes (the turkey does not have to get hot). Remove from oven and transfer bacon to other side of ciabatta, laying on top of onion relish. Divide avocado slices between sandwiches, placing on top of bacon. Spread aïoli evenly across each ciabatta top, close sandwiches, slice each in half, and serve.

comments: oh my goodness, these sandwiches are AMAZING. i feel like i’ve eaten a lot of sandwiches in my life, i enjoy sandwiches a lot, i crave sandwiches a lot, and i think i know when a sandwich is something special. i love sandwiches!!!

anyhow, first of all a good sandwich needs good bread, so i got a fresh loaf of ciabatta at st. germaine. yum-o!

next, there’s the turkey. we didn’t have any fresh turkey, but had some pretty good quality deli turkey. tasty tasty!

then you gotta have a nice ripe avocado. man, i love avocados. avocados in sandwiches make me happy. creamy deliciousness!

the aioli sauce was really good too. i used the leftovers for more tasty sandwiches the week after.

but the thing that really makes this sandwich special, is the onion relish. it is so perfect for this sandwich and works so well with every other part of the sandwich. i love this stuff. i’m just going to make it and eat it straight. then drink the extra juice at the bottom.

i love this sandwich so much. it is definitely of my all-time favorite sandwiches.

soup and salad

earlier in the summer (before i got my job) i made these two tasty recipes for a nice summer dinner.

southwestern corn chowder
(from rachel ray best eats in town $40 a day, courtesy Windy Ridge Cafe, Park City, UT)

southwestern corn chowder

10 roma tomatoes
olive oil
2 lb. frozen corn
1 medium red pepper
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 small yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
3 cups chicken stock
2 cups half-and-half
5 small white corn tortillas fried crispy, chopped
dash cumin
pinch chili powder
1 medium avocado, small, diced
1. preheat oven to 500 F. preheat a grill or grill pan.

2. rub the tomatoes with olive oil and place on a cookie sheet. roast for 10-12 minutes until skin blisters nad blackens. remove from oven and cool. when cool enough to handle, peel the tomatoes and set aside.

roasted tomatoes

3. lay the corn out on a cookie sheet. season with 1.5 tsp salt and .5 tsp pepper. roast until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

4. rub the red pepper with olive oil. grill until skin is black and blistered. place in a resealable plastic bag and refrigerate until cooled. peel, seed, dice, and set aside.

5. in a large saucepan over medium heat, saute the onion and garlic in butter until the onion begins to soften, about 4 minutes. add the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes. add chicken stock, roasted corn, peeled tomatoes, and half-and-half and bring to a gentle simmer. add the fried corn tortillas and simmer 2 minutes.

6. puree with an immersion blender, or carefully with a regular blender. if you use a regular blender, do not fill the blender more than halfway as hot liquids can expand and spurt out of the blender. season, to taste, with cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. strain. serve soup garnished with avocado and roasted red pepper.

comments: so this is the first recipe i’ve tried from rachel ray’s $40 a day book, and it turned out quite well. actually i saw a bunch of good recipes in this book, and they must be good because they’re all recipes from real restaurants that rachel ray ate at. anyway, this is also the first recipe where i got to use an immersion blender. those things are pretty sweet. anyhow, roasting all the veggies in the oven gave the soup a real nice flavor, and using the immersion blender gave it a nice creamy texture, but you could still taste some of the corn texture, which was good. i think the final addition of the cumin and chili powder is important because it can give the soup a nice kick. the only thing i would change is that i would roast more peppers (actually, i roasted a bunch of mini ones but it still wasn’t enough) because the smokiness and sourness go really well with the soup. also, this soup tastes really good with bread!

layered cobb salad
(from epicurious.com)

layered cobb salad

For dressing
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For salad
3 skinless boneless chicken breast halves (1 1/4 lb)
2 California avocados
1 head romaine, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide slices (8 cups)
6 bacon slices, cooked until crisp, drained, and finely chopped
3 medium tomatoes (3/4 lb), seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 to 3 oz Roquefort, crumbled (1/2 to 3/4 cup)
2 bunches watercress, coarse stems discarded
2 hard-boiled large eggs, halved and forced through a coarse sieve
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives

Make dressing:
Whisk together all dressing ingredients except oil in a bowl, then add oil in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified.

Make salad:
Bring 5 cups water to a simmer in a 2-quart saucepan, then simmer chicken, uncovered, 6 minutes. Remove pan from heat and cover, then let stand until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and cool completely. Cut into 1/2-inch cubes.

Halve, pit, and peel avocados, then cut into 1/2-inch cubes.

Spread romaine over bottom of a 6- to 8-quart glass bowl and top with an even layer of chicken. Sprinkle bacon over chicken, then continue layering with tomatoes, cheese (to taste), avocados, watercress, eggs, and chives.

Just before serving, pour dressing over salad and toss.

Cooks’ note:
° Dressing can be made and salad assembled 1 hour ahead and chilled separately, covered.

Makes 4 to 6 main-course servings.

comments: ok, this salad is awesome. it has everything a person could dream of in a salad AND MORE. the reason i chose this recipe is because it has 43 good reviews, a four-fork rating, and 100% of people who rated the recipe would make it again. that is like amazing. even really good recipes usually have someone complaining about something. anyhow, of course all the things that go into the salad are great, but i think the extra special thing is the dressing. it works really well with the ingredients while not overpowering them and it just has a good mix of sourness (from the red wine vinegar and lemon juice) and a little bitterness from the dijon. it makes quite a bit too, which i didn’t really realize, so we ended up with a lot of leftover salad. but the second day it still tasted really really good. the lettuce was slightly soggier, but i actually liked how it had absorbed more of the dressing (but still without having it overpower everything else) and some of the flavors had melded together more. i guess after that the lettuce might have gotten too soggy, but since we ate it all by the second day, i can’t really say for sure. i think it’s unlikely that this salad will survive that long anyway. cuz it’s really good you know. btw, we used turkey bacon (whatever that is), and it was as tasty as regular bacon!

hawaii: day 6

on day 6, dr. howell from UH came to pick up cameron and i, and then he and some other grad students from his group treated us to dim sum at happy day! it was tasty. mmm… free and delicious.

then cameron got hungry in the afternoon so we went to ALOHA SUSHI at the pearlridge mall.

aloha sushi

aloha sushi is an inexpensive sushi chain in hawaii.

aloha sushi

they had a pretty display with plastic sushi showing the different sushi combinations available:

aloha sushi display

cameron got one of those little boxes:

aloha sushi combo

aloha sushi is good if you want a quick, inexpensive snack.

i bought some more banana ice cream from holotta ice cream 🙂

holotta banana ice cream

for dinner, we went with cameron’s parents to the harbor pub in waikiki because cameron’s dad had a gift certificate from there. the harbor looked really beautiful:

waikiki harbor

the food turned out to be excellent! we started off with a really tasty greek salad:

greek salad

then we had a half-order of nachos, also very tasty. refried beans and cheese were baked in a little casserole dish and then topped with lettuce, tomatoes, olives, guacamole, and sour cream. it also came with some fresh salsa.


finally, for the main course, we had a large pizza – half tomato and basil, half “harbor special,” which is basically everything (pepperoni, olives, green peppers, mushrooms, ham, onions, and red peppers).


this pizza was seriously delicious. the crust was nice and crispy at the bottom but soft in the middle, the cheese was super melty and stringy, and the sauce was very tomato-ey and smooth. our waitress was very nice too and gave us recommendations on how much to get because initially we ordered way too much food. we ended up with some leftover pizza, and the total cost was really reasonable.