It’s that time of year again. No, I’m not talking about the holidays. I’m talking about TRUFFLES! These little ugly, yet delicious nuggets can make any dish wonderful. If you’ve never had the opportunity to try a fresh truffle, I urge you to drop whatever you’re doing and go try one RIGHT NOW! I love all things truffle. So much so that I named my pup after it.
My adorable mini dachshund, Truffles! <3
Recently on a day trip to Napa, Calvin and I made a pit stop at Dean & Deluca in St. Helena. There I saw that they had both white and black truffles from France.
Did you notice the price? $800/lb (or $50/oz) for the black truffles and $4,000/lb (or $250/oz) for the white truffle. (!!!~!!!!!) Needless to say, Truffles are somewhat of a big spend in the world of food. It isn’t something I’d normally buy. In fact, I’ve only purchased a truffle once and that was to celebrate the day that my awesome pup Truffles arrived from the breeder. But when I was shopping at Whole Foods, I couldn’t help myself when I saw them nicely packaged in the produce section.
Only $24.99 for all 3!
So I turned a regular weekday dinner into a decadent, rich event! I made cheesy truffle garlic bread out of Acme sweet batard that I cut in half, taking room temperature butter, minced garlic, italian herbs, grated parano and domestic parmesean cheeses – smear on both sides of the bread, put back together and wrap in tin foil and place in a pre-heated oven at 450 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes in the foil, then take the bread out of the oven, remove the foil and separate the halves and put back in the oven, face up, for another 15 minutes or until the cheese starts to brown and bubble. Remove from oven and place the bread cheesy side down on parchment paper. Cut with bread knife. Cutting it face down will help to ensure that you don’t rip off the cheesy topping.
For the main course, I sauteed golden chanterelles and button mushrooms in a little butter and olive oil on med-high heat to cook away most of their moisture. Threw in frozen peas and sauteed for 5 minutes. I tossed these with a porcini cream sauce made by a pasta company that Whole Foods carries, (though I can’t remember the name of the company), and chopped prosciutto that I crisped in a skillet earlier while the mushrooms were cooking. Grated black truffle over it all and voila! A hearty, robust, decadent meal to spice up the work week!
The reason that the word homemade is in quotes is because this ramen was technically made at home, but isn’t actually homemade (from scratch). I can’t remember the brand name that I buy, but there is a pretty decent ramen that is sold at Mitsuwa, Marukai (Cupertino) and Nijiya in the cold foods section. It comes in a 2 pack and includes the soup base and the noodles (crinkly kind). They have 3 flavors to choose from: Shoyu, Tokotsu and Miso. I usually keep the shoyu and tokotsu versions in my fridge for lazy days, which came last night. Also on a recent trip to Marukai, they had a new charsu available, so I picked up a pack of that and put it in the freezer for another day.
Last night seemed like the perfect night for it. After a wonderful brunch at Absinthe and our very first experience at the ballet, plus a little impromptu shopping in Hayes Valley, lounging at home in our pjs and slurping up noodles sounded like a great idea. I defrosted the charsu and popped it into the oven to heat up. To the ramen I added shimeji mushrooms, sauteed bean sprouts, roasted garlic cloves, bamboo and kimchi. Topped it off with a handful of chopped scallion. Not bad at all for store bought ramen!
I’ve never been much of a breakfast person. Aside from cheese grits and bacon, I don’t really like any type of breakfast food. When I go to brunch, I order from the lunch menu. At home breakfast usually means cereal, but occasionally I get in the mood to make a real breakfast and on a lazy and rainy Sunday morning I decided to make another brat boy favorite. French toast!!
For the bread I used La Boulange brioche and for the batter I used beaten eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. But to add a special twist, I caramelized the french toast, an idea that I got from one of my copies of Gourmet magazine. To caramelize the french toast all you need to do is mix equal parts brown sugar and room temperature butter and melt it, 2 tblspns at a time, in a large non-stick skillet. Dip your bread in the egg batter and put in the skillet with the melted butter/sugar mixture. Cook over medium-high heat until the bread starts to turn a deep brown. Spread a layer of butter/sugar mixture over the slice of bread facing up, then flip over and cook until deep brown also.
Plate, top with your favorite toppings, which for me is strawberries and blueberries, powdered sugar and top quality, organic maple syrup. This is one of the easiest and most delicious breakfast items I have made to date. My brat boy definitely enjoyed it. I think he ate 3 or 4 slices.
I thought I’d start a new category here on BFF called “BBF”, which stands for Brat Boy Favorites. Brat Boy is an endearing nickname for my wonderful boyfriend, Calvin. In return, you’ll often hear him call me Brat Girl. We even have our own brat boy/girl theme song, but this is not personal blog so I’ll spare you all the mushy details.
I gather inspiration for cooking from a variety of sources, one of those being Calvin and I’m always trying to perfect those dishes that he calls his favorites. After a somewhat failed attempt at making clams with black bean sauce for Lunar New Year, I really wanted to attempt to make it again. I say “somewhat failed attempt” because although the overall taste of the clam dish I made for Lunar New Year was good, it wasn’t a true black bean sauce. It was more of a black bean soup. hah..
So this time around, instead of following a recipe I found off of the internet, I thought more about the dish and how it is served at restaurants and how to make a thick, flavorful sauce that would coat the clams and not have them swimming in broth. A mixture of Shaoxing rice wine, preserved black beans, corn starch, soy sauce, chicken stock, garlic and sugar make the perfect combination. I boiled the clams in water to open them up then threw them into the simmering sauce and tossed well to coat. Remember to sauteed the bell peppers and onions for 2-3 minutes before throwing in clams.
For our veggie side dish, I made another one of Calvin’s favorites, Ong Choy with shrimp paste. Saute garlic and shrimp paste with a little chicken stock, toss in ong choy, remembering to toss the greens often to cook evenly and prevent one side from wilting too quickly. Cook 8-10 minutes.
Have you ever been asked what your last meal on this earth would be? I have… In fact, it’s a profile question on one of my favorite social networking sites, Yelp. I don’t think I would be able to pick just one thing as my last meal, but I definitely have a last meal list and on that list is katsu curry. This dish is comprised of flavorful, savory curry that is full of spice, pork cutlet that has been battered and breaded and deep fried, steaming short grain rice and usually accompanied by takuan (pickled radish, usually yellow in color) and fukujinzuke (variety of pickled root vegetables, usually red in color) or other types of tsukemono (japanese pickled veggies served as okazu).
I love trying new recipes at home, from all different types of cuisine, but when I can’t seem to figure out what I want to cook, or when I have those days when I just don’t have a craving for anything in particular, katsu curry always comes to the rescue. One bite and I am immediately comforted. So in my pantry, you’ll find several boxes of Kokumaro Curry, in mild, medium and hot. There are a few popular brands of curry, including Vermont and S&B Golden, but for no reason in particular, I usually buy Kokumaro.
For this dish, I used pork tenderloin purchased from Golden Gate Meat Co. in the Ferry Building, generously seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic salt, dusted with katakuriko which is a Japanese potato starch, dipped in beaten Marin Sun Farm eggs and then breaded with Japanese panko and deep fried in vegetable oil.
I prefer my curry to have chunky vegetables so I usually cut my potatoes into chunks with carrots and lots of mushrooms. Sometimes I will also put corn or english peas in the curry as well. The great thing about curry is you can put any type of veggie in it and really make it a personal dish. I had curry with lots of spinach once at a place in Honolulu and it was amazing. Just keep in mind cooking times when adding your veggies. You wouldn’t want to add spinach, which cooks very quickly, at the same time with your potatoes since potatoes take at least 15 minutes to cook.
One thing to consider when serving your curry is how you and your dinner companions prefer to have it served. Typically the rice is placed on one side of the plate with the sliced tonkatsu resting on top of the rice and the curry is poured into the empty side of the plate. When served this way, the rice always reminds me of land and the curry reminds me of a muddy pond. hah.. I personally prefer for my rice to be placed in the bottom of a bowl, the sliced tonkatsu to be placed on top of the rice and then big heaping spoonfuls to be poured right on top, allowing the tonkatsu and rice to be submerged in curry.
Whether cool and sunny or dark and rainy, katsu curry is the perfect, versatile comfort food that is sure to warm your bellies and satisfy any craving.
I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to drool a little right now just looking at this picture…