free food! (not the bunnies)

this week i won’t be cooking at all because i get FREE FOOD!!! yay for meeting the new frosh because i get free lunch AND dinner until saturday. house food isn’t the tastiest, but it is the free-est. and it’s fun meeting them and telling them my message, “hey… don’t do drugs.” besides, the kitchen here is kinda messy still because the old people are moving out. and i’m still unpacking/cleaning so i am happy for the break from cooking. yay for the froshies!

and here’s a picture of my new foster bunnies, violet and clyde:

violet and clyde

NOTE: these bunnies are not food! they are very cute though. when i take some better pictures, i’ll post them.

mystery meat

i’ve been trying out more sauce/spice combinations from the wok cookbook since asian food is like the default food of my life. asian supermarkets are so much cheaper than american ones when it comes to veggies, seafood, and meat. when i go there, i just stock up, so this book has been a great way to get some new inspiration. plus, our kitchen is stocked with all the asian ingredients, so it’s really convenient. my dad and i are pretty good guinea pigs too since both of us will eat just about anything (my mom’s in china for a trip).

this recipe was chosen because it had “cumin” in its title. i just bought some cumin the other week, and i didn’t know it could also go with asian food. i am slowly learning to recognize and use more yummy spices.

cumin lamb stir-fry

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon chinese rice wine
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
500g (1 lb) lean lamb loin fillets, thinly sliced across the grain
1/3 cup (80ml/2 3/4 fl oz) chicken or vegetable stock
2 teaspoons chinese black vinegar
2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 red onion, cut into small wedges
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, lightly crushed
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
75 g (2 1/2 oz) garlic chives, trimmed and halved

combine the dark soy sauce, chinese rice wine, and 2 teaspoons of the light soy sauce in a large non-metallic bowl. add the lamb and toss well. cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes

to make the stir-fry sauce, combine the stock, black vinegar, chili garlic sauce, and remaining light soy sauce in a small non-metallic jug.

heat a wok over high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the oil and swirl to coat. add the lamb in two batches and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes, or until browned. remove from wok.

heat the remaining oil in the wok, add the onion wedges and stir-fry for 2 minutes. add the cumin, garlic, ginger and garlic chives and cook for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. pour in the stir-fry sauce, and bring to the boil until thickened slightly and combined with the other ingredients. return the lamb to the wok, quickly stir to coat with the sauce then serve with steamed rice and asian greens.

comments: okay, so i didn’t have lamb. mmm… lamb. i can see how this would be really tasty for lamb. anyway, the sad thing is that i am not completely sure what meat i had. i am pretty sure it was pork. but part of it was pretty red. and i can’t remember whether it tasted more like beef or pork (it was a couple days ago). well, whatever it was, it turned out pretty tasty. i added some green peppers with the onions too.

i actually really liked this sauce combination. it wasn’t too salty, and the cumin added a really nice flavor. i will definitely repeat this one!

and i have finally learned to embrace garlic and ginger. man are they tasty and they make the kitchen smell soooooo good! they go amazingly well with asian food, adding such great flavor to EVERYTHING. (next up is a wing creation: ginger and garlic muffins!)

cumin pork stir-fry

eggplant

cambodian minced pork with eggplant
(from the essential wok cookbook)
1 large eggplant, pierced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red chili, seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
250g (8 oz) pork mince1tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup (125ml/4 fl oz) chicken stock
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons sugar
250g (8 oz) raw prawn meat
finely choppedthinly sliced spring onions, to garnish

preheat oven to hot 220 C (425 F/Gas 7). place the eggplant on a aking tray and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until soft. cool, peel the skin and cut lengthwise into 1 cm (1/2 inch) thick strips.

combine the garlic, chili, soy sauce, fish sauce, and chili powder in a bowl. add the mince and mix well. cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. heat a wok over high heat, add the oil and swirl. add the pork and stir-fry for 3 minutes, or until cooked. add the chicken stock, lime juice, sugar, and eggplant and simmer for 5 minutes, then add the prawns and cook for 5 minutes. transfer to a plate and garnish with the spring onion.

comments: this recipe caught my interest because i’ve never tried baking eggplant to get it soft. i’ve tried deep-frying, which is pretty tasty but not too healthy. large pots of oil are usually not that much fun either. last year my mom told me you could also boil them whole (skin and all), which seems to work quite well. i was going to say that baking and boiling seems to be about the same, but i just realized that i had the oven at 220 F, not 220 C. oops. well, baking at 220 for about an hour is like boiling. i’ll have to try baking some eggplant again to see how it does at 220 C, but i’m guessing boiling and baking will lead to the same result, so it just depends on your preference.

i didn’t put any meat or chili/chili powder (my dad can’t take the heat) and i am not part of team fish sauce, so i just used the recipe for suggestions. oh yeah, i added some black bean garlic sauce. i love that stuff. my eggplant dishes usually aren’t very visually appealing, but they taste okay. i’m not sure how to keep their lighter color. when i was in china, their eggplant had a really nice color and it was seriously one of the tastiest things i’ve ever eaten (my roommate and i ordered it like everyday that summer). of course, theirs always was in a yummy pool of oil. maybe that’s the secret…

eggplant

bandana bread

banana bread with pecans
(from foodtv.com, Food 911 with Tyler Florence)

banana bread
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 overripe bananas
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan.In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

Mash 2 of the bananas with a fork in a small bowl so they still have a bit of texture. With an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk, whip the remaining bananas and sugar together for a good 3 minutes; you want a light and fluffy banana cream. Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla; beat well and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated; no need to overly blend. Fold in the nuts and the mashed bananas with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Give the pan a good rap on the counter to get any air bubbles out.

Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Don’t get nervous if the banana bread develops a crack down the center of the loaf; that’s no mistake, it’s typical. Rotate the pan periodically to ensure even browning.

Cool the bread in the pan for 10 minutes or so, and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. Toast the slices of banana bread, dust with confectioners’ sugar, and serve.

comments: this was a really easy banana bread recipe, and the thing i really liked was the little pockets of mushy banana that were in there. it was a nice contrast in texture and taste to the rest of the bready parts. the only thing i changed was i used walnuts instead of pecans. yum!
banana bread slice