Archive for September, 2011

September 30, 2011

Maque Choux

I recently went to Bistro Alex in Houston’s City Centre. GREAT flavors, WONDERFUL atmosphere. Rather unforgiving on the pocket book. So here I am trying to recreate my dish. Oh and FYI: Maque Choux (pronounced “mock shoe”), is a cajun take on succotash.

INGREDIENTS: (serves ~3-4)

  • ~3 cups corn
  • 1 small onion, diced finely
  • 1/2 large green bell pepper. diced finely
  • 1 cup okra, sliced
  • 1/2 cup tomato, diced finely
  • 2 slices of bacon, diced
  • ~1/3 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1.5 tbs parsley
  • 1 tsp cajon seasoning


  1. In a large skillet, fry up bacon over medium high heat to render the fat. Remove bacon and set aside.
  2. In remaining drippings, saute onions until soft ~3-5min. Salt
  3. Add bell pepper and continue to saute ~3 min.
  4. Add tomatoes and let most of the moisture absorb. Season with thyme/parsley/cajun spices and mix.
  5. Add okra and bacon and mix. Continue to saute until okra just cooked through (it’ll get more slimy as it gets soggier). ~3 min.
  6. Pour in cream and mix until entire dish begins to thicken.
  7. Remove and plate.

Serve under blackened/pan seared fish or shrimp.

September 28, 2011

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Apples, Wild Rice, and Bacon


  • 1 large shallot, diced finely
  • 1/2 medium apple, diced finely
  • 1/4 cup celery, diced finely
  • 1-2 tbs pecans, toasted and chopped
  • 1 tbs golden raisins, soaked in white wine
  • ~1 cup wild rice, cooked
  • 1 slice bacon, minced
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • salt

Prepare squash: cut lengthwise in half. scoop out seeds in center. Place face down on aluminum pan and bake on 350F for 30-40 min or until flesh is soft.

Pan fry bacon in large skillet to render fat. Once browned and cooked through, remove bacon and set aside. In remaining drippings, saute shallots until soft ~3 min. Add celery and saute until soft ~3min. Salt. Add rice and apples then mix (use a dash of chicken stock if necessary to soften rice.) Add cooked bacon, raisins, pecans, parsley, mix and cook 3-5 more minutes. Remove from heat. Salt to taste.

To serve, spoon out extra flesh from squash to make room for stuffing. Pack with rice mixture and serve.

September 28, 2011

Braised Chinese Spare Ribs (紅燒排骨)

Does this count as “hong shao”? Who knows. I’ve watched my mother cook for 20+ years and but she never has a recipe. I don’t even really know what most of her dishes are called. But she did make some variation of this stew all throughout my childhood. I figure it’s about time I learn! A lot of this just came to me as I was going. Like parboiling. I remember peaking over the counter as a child and seeing the steam rise up out of the sink as she poured the meat out.

Not all the credit goes to mother dearest, though. I did some research before hand, namely with the wonderful blog Red Cook. This is where I got the tip to caramelize my meat after parboiling. Great article!


  • ~2 lb spare ribs
  • 1/3 cup chinese rice wine
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 2 large cloves of star anise
  • 2-3 tbs vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks of green onion, chopped in 2 inch long pieces
  • 2 large carrots, diced large
  • ~1.5 tbs chinese five spice
  • ~2 tbs soy sauce


  1. Parboil ribs: place ribs in a large pot of just enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil for about ~10 min and skim off excess foamy stuff that floats to the top (it’s cooked out blood, fat, etc). Remove meat, drain water, then rinse meat and set aside to cool.
  2. In a dutch oven or pot, heat up 2-3 tbs vegetable oil and melt in it all the sugar. When oil is hot, place ribs into pot and sear/caramelize on all sides.
  3. Once browned evenly, deglaze pot with wine.
  4. Let it reduce a little bit, then add garlic, green onion, five spice, soy sauce, 1-2 cups of water, and a pinch of salt.
  5. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cover pot ~ 2 hours. Turn meat and continue to simmer 2+ hours. Salt to taste if needed (or add more soy sauce.)
  6. Refrigerate over night and skim off fat before reheating to serve.

General note on braising:If you stop braising TOO SOON, meat will be tough and dry. This does NOT mean you overcooked it. As long as you kept braising low and slow, don’t freak out and let it it continue simmering for a few more hours. Meat will lose all it’s collegen and juicy goodness into the broth before it soaks it all back up again. So be patient!


September 28, 2011

Stir Fry How To + Easiest stir fry dish ever


  • 1 large potato, sliced
  • 1 green onion, sliced diagonally
  • vegetable oil


  1. Wash and drain potato slices to remove excess starch.
  2. Heat vegetable oil in a large frying pan or wok.
  3. Add potato, salt generously, and stir fry until just soft.
  4. Push potato aside and make a hole in the center of the pan.
  5. Add a dribble more of oil in the hole, and flash fry the green onions.
  6. Stir and mix with potato.  Serve.

See? Easy. A good side to compliment a heavier dish.

I typically have one or two vegetable dishes, a meat dish, and something extra (tofu? eggs?) It may seem like a pain to make so many dishes when cooking Chinese at home, but stir frying is so fast and simple it really doesn’t take any longer than cooking a western meal with just one entree and one side.
Here’s your basic stir fry run down:

  1. Chop. Cut everything into similar shapes and sizes. Not only does it make it easier to eat, it cooks more evenly and is more aesthetically pleasing. Ex: if your meat is cubed, dont cut long and skinny vegetables. I typically prefer long strips of meat and veggies. It is easier to pick up several different components of the dish with one swipe of the chopstick.
  2. If you have meat, marinate it. This can be done ahead of time, or just before you cut the veggies so it’ll have time to sit. You do not need long. maybe 30 minutes. Dissolve a bit of corn starch in soy sauce. Maybe a drop or two of sesame oil. Then toss meat to coat evenly.
  3. Heat wok. Or a large frying pan. My crappy electric stove and Calphalon frying pan works fine. Heat until the pan is smoking. Add oil and let it heat until shimmering.
  4. a) Stir fry meat and remove. Once meat is browned all over, scoop it into a bowl and set aside. If using beef or shrimp or other meats that get tough when overcooked, don’t cook all the way through.
  5. b) Reheat pan and add veggies/tofu. Stir fry and season/salt to taste.
  6. Reintroduce meat into pan. Stir briefly to mix.
  7. c) Optional: Add tertiary ingredients if necessary: green onions, hot sauce, and things that dont need a lot of cooking and are just for extra flavor. In fact, always add green onion last or it’ll get brown and ugly.
  8. Remove from pan immediately and serve.

Stir fry combos I eat regularly at home: (Everything is split into 3 ingredients, corresponding with steps 4, 5, and 7)

  • a) slices of pork tenderloin + b) dried tofu (dou fu gan) + c) spicy preserved vegetable (see pic)
  • a) shrimp + b) eggs, scrambled + c) green onions…
  • a) chive flower + b) pork tenderloin slices + c) thousand year old egg (my favorite! place eggs in cold water and bring to a boil. remove and cut into chunks. this prevents the yolk from being too sticky)

Maybe I’ll write up recipes for these some other day. It’s all very simple! I’m sure you can figure it out.

One last tip: Seasoning is done with salt if the dish is light colored (shrimp and egg scramble). And soy sauce if dark (most meat dishes)

September 26, 2011

Mexican Baked Eggs


  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 can diced tomatos
  • 1/2 can black beans
  • 2-3 tsp Mexene chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 3 eggs
  • handful of shredded cheese, mexican blend
  • cilantro for garnish
  • salt


  1. Heat cast iron skillet on medium to high heat.
  2. Add a bit of oil and saute onions until translucent. ~3-5 min
  3. Add bell peppers and saute until soft. 2-3 min
  4. Add tomatoes and beans and heat through until it bubbles.
  5. Season and salt to taste.
  6. Crack 3 eggs on top and place in oven to broil for 5 minutes. Eggs should still look a bit runny.
  7. Sprinkle on cheese and return to broiler 1 min or until cheese melts.
  8. Remove from oven. Top with cilantro and serve with warm bread/tortillas.

September 14, 2011

Pork Chops Take 3 + Brining is your friend.


1 gallon = 16 cups

1 cup = 16 tbs

Incidentally, the brine solution ratio that I use is 1:16. That is, 1 part salt, 16 parts water. Or: 1 tbs salt per 1 cup of water. This is your basic brining solution. Feel free to add extras, such as brown sugar (I usually do for pork chops. About half to 1 tbs sugar per cup of water), honey, herbs and seasonings, etc. I find most of the extras unnecessary.

How do you brine?

  1. Dissolve salt in warm water and let it cool.
  2. Fully submerge meat in brining solution, then cover and refrigerate for several hours.

That’s it! This works wonders for tough meat such as chicken breast, turkey, and pork.

For a thin, 1/2” chop, 2 hours of brining is fine. for a 1”+, try brining 4+ hours or overnight. Make sure your butcher cuts your chops with even thickness!

Ugly picture. I know. But it was SO much more juicy and moist than my last round of chops.

Here’s the original Rosemary Pistachio pork chop recipe. Here’s my revised and super simplified version:


  • pistachios
  • rosemary
  • eggs
  • bone in pork chops
  • salt
  • brown sugar
  • oil


  1. Pound then brine chops in 1:1:16 parts salt:brown sugar:water. You can do this in the morning before leaving the house. 8 hours later take it out to make dinner.
  2. Remove chops from brine and dab try with paper towel.
  3. Coat in egg, beaten.
  4. Coat in pistachio/rosemary powder (pulsed in a food processor).
  5. Let chops sit 10 min.
  6. Preheat oven to 350F
  7. Heat oil in large skillet.
  8. Sear chops on each side 2-3 minutes or until brown. Do not crowd.
  9. Place chops in oven for ~15 min or until 150F (chops will continue to cook up to 160F after you remove it)
September 13, 2011

Poached Fish in Coconut Broth

Amazing recipe adapted from The Year in Food:

I’ll admit. I rushed this one. Didn’t have fresh mushrooms so I had to use dried. Then I found out I was out of coconut milk, and all I had to work with was a block I left in the freezer. AND, I learned that dried herbs do NOT always work just as well as fresh. I will definitely try this again when I’m better prepared.


  • 2 8-ounce cod fillets (or any other thick white fish.)
  • 1.5 cups dry white wine
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbs fresh tarragon, or 1 tsp dried
  • 1 tbs flatleaf parsley, or 1 tsp dried
  • 2 ounces brown beech mushrooms (can substitute any light, delicately-flavored mushroom)
  • handful fresh sorrel (can substitute other spring greens)
  • salt + pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 200F
  2. In a large skillet, melt one tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute, stirring, for about 2-3 minutes to soften.
  3. Salt and pepper both sides of the cod fillets and place in pan. Add the wine and water and poach cod until cooked, ~7 minutes.
  4. Using a large spatula, remove cod from broth and place in wide, shallow soup bowls. Place bowls with cod in oven to keep warm.
  5. Raise the heat on broth and bring to a boil to reduce by about one cup.
  6. Reduce heat to medium low and add coconut milk, remaining butter, tarragon and parsley, and stir.
  7. Add mushrooms and cook for about five minutes, until mushrooms are tender.
  8. Turn off heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Remove bowls from oven. Divide fresh sorrel between the bowls. Ladle broth over the fish and sorrel. Garnish with fresh tarragon leaves. Serve immediately.

September 12, 2011

Summer Corn Soup w/ Shrimp and Avocado

Adapted from Food Nouveau!



  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large Yukon Gold potato, diced
  • 2 cups of corn (1 cup = 2 ears fresh)
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp fresh ground nutmeg <– i found this to be too overpowering. maybe 1/2 tsp?
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Shrimp mixture: 

  • 20 medium shrimp, peeled and tail removed
  • 1 avocado, diced and tossed in lime juice to prevent oxidation.
  • 1 lime, juice only
  • ½ jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 green onion, diced

To Serve:

  • greek yogurt mixed with lime juice or sour cream.


  1. Heat pan on medium high. Add olive oil. Pat shrimp dry. Season with salt and pepper, and cook until just pink. Remove and set aside.
  2. Heat a medium dutch oven, or large pot on medium high heat. Add butter and saute onions until translucent.
  3. Add potatoes and corn and cook ~3 minutes.
  4. Add broth, spices, and salt to taste. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until potatoes are soft. ~15-20 minutes.
  5. Dice shrimp and put in large mixing bowl.
  6. Add avocados, jalapenos, and green onion. Salt to taste then set in fridge
  7. With immersion blender, puree soup. Salt to taste if needed.
  8. Serve soup in bowls, top with shrimp mixture, then heap on sour cream or greek yogurt.

September 1, 2011

Bay Scallops Sautéed w Basil, Green Beans, and Fresh Summer Tomatoes


  • a couple handfuls of haricot verts
  • 1 large fresh vine tomato, diced
  • 0.5 to 0.75lb bay scallops
  • 6 fresh basil leaves, julienned
  • ~1 small lemon, juiced
  • 1 tbs white wine*
  • 1/2 tbs butter (ghee if possible, for the higher smoking point)
  • black pepper
  • salt

*Don’t forget, white wine keeps in the freezer!


  1. Wash/rinse scallops and pat very dry.  Sprinkle and toss in a pinch of salt.
  2. Heat skillet on high until just smoking. Add butter and melt.
  3. Add scallops and saute until just cooked through (slightly golden but still plump, not shriveled up and dry). Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Turn heat down to med-high. In the same skillet, with any remaining juices, add green beans. Add salt/pepper, squeeze in lemon juice to taste, then cover, and steam for 2-3 min. Uncover.  (Beans should still be crisp when you bite into it, but not crunch. DO IT. eat one.)
  5. Add tomatoes and toss. Add wine and cook until liquid reduced by almost half.
  6. Return scallops to skillet. Add basil. Toss and mix evenly.
  7. Salt to taste if needed.  Serve!