Monday, May 31, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Sunday Thai Food

Kyle and I are getting ready for our big kitchen remodel! If you look at our photos taken from our cooking adventures, you will notice how I strategically photograph things to avoid capturing our hideous countertops and 1960s appliances. I am looking forward to having a beautiful new kitchen as a backdrop to my food photos.

While spending a day packing away dishes and scraping the last dregs of ugly wall paper off a kitchen wall, Kyle and I decided to say farewell to the old kitchen with a Thai food extravaganza. Instead of our usual Thai take-out, we picked out a couple of recipes from a cookbook I picked up from the library. It is a cookbook for Keo's Thai Cuisine, an amazing Thai/pan-Asian restaurant in Waikiki.

Several years ago, my friend Ali and I traveled to Hawaii as a part of the Japanese Community Queen Scholarship Program and were wined and dined for a week. Keo's was one of the stops on the trip, and when I found their cookbook, I was instantly transported back to the amazing dinner we had on that trip. Although my attempt was not quite up to par with the restaurant and took about 1 1/2 hours of shopping at Ranch 99 in order to find all the ingredients, it was well worth it in the end. I will post the recipes for all three dishes we tried over the next couple of weeks!

Evil Jungle Prince with Chicken


1/2 lb boneless chicken breasts

2-6 small red chile peppers

1/2 stalk fresh lemon grass

2 kaffir lime leaves (I think they are also called curry leaves, and found them in the produce section of Ranch 99)

2 TBS Vegetable Oil

1/2 cup coconut milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-3 TBS fish sauce (amount depends on brand and personal taste--Kyle and I found a bottle of the stuff that was made in Thailand, so we thought it would have a more "authentic" taste!)

10-15 sweet basil leaves (make sure you get the Thai basil, not Italian...)

1 cup chopped cabbage (we got Napa cabbage which is a little crunchier and sexier than boring normal cabbage!)

Thinly cut chicken into 2-inch strips. I found that if you slice the chicken length-wise in thin strips and then cut those strips in half width-wise, they end up perfect for this dish. Grind together red chile peppers, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves in a food processor or pound in a motar. Heat oil to medium-high and saute pepper mixture for 3 minutes. Stir in coconut milk and cook for 2 minutes. Add chicken and cook for 5 minutes, or until cooked. Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in fish sauce and basil. Serve on bed of chopped cabbage. I have to note that the dish ended up a bit salty, so I would reccommend going easy on the fish sauce and extra salt. You can always add salt, but unfortunately cannot take away salt once it is in the dish....

Thai Broccoli Noodles with Shrimp...look for the recipe in next week's post!

A very blurry photo of the eggplant with chicken...look for the recipe in another future post!

Happy Eating,

Friday, May 21, 2010

Seattle Restaurant Week: Barking Frog

This post is completely overdue. Kyle and I were very excited about Seattle's Restaurant Week, where dozens of Seattle's best restaurants offered 3 course dinners for $25. Some restaurants also offered 3 course lunches for $15. We have heard a lot of great reviews on The Barking Frog in Woodinville and decided to take out Kyle's parents for an early Mother's Day celebration!

For those of you wondering where the name "Barking Frog" comes from, the website says it is based off of Native American storytellers who use the frog as a symbol of wealth and abundance. When there is a "barking frog," it is a sign of peace and harmony in nature. My mother in law said she never wanted to go to the restaurant before because the name was funny--but don't be fooled by the name, there are no frogs on the menu, only delicious eats!

Course #1: this is the restaurant's famous Grand Marnier Prawns with lemongrass dressing and mixed greens. It tasted a lot like Chinese honey walnut prawns, but more refined. My friend Amy and Aaron said that this is one of their all-time favorite dishes.

Course #1: Kyle's Sous Vide Pork Belly--one of the highlights of the meal. Kyle said, "This was really really good, sweet and tender pork belly, not super fatty though. Just tasted like tender pork instead of fatty bacon."

Main course: we loved the shortribs with creamy polenta. There was this amazing sweet honey drizzle that helped to bring out the flavors of the dish. The polenta was not salty or overpowering, just a perfect accompionment to a perfect piece of meat!

The Chocolate Lava cake was to die for! This is my all-time favorite dessert at any restaurant, and Barking Frog's was a true delight!

Kyle got the creme brulee, which was more of a sweet vanilla custard. Kyle said it was rich and left him wanting more.

Kyle parent's, Joyce and Steve, and us digging into our savory meal!
We had a wonderful time and are looking forward to October when Seattle Restaurant Week returns!
Happy Eating,

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mother's Day

For Mother's Day my mom wanted to go to the Mariners game. Yes she wanted to go to the game and told me probably two months in advance. My mom is a big Mariners fan and definitely has been to more games over the past ten years than I have. We took the above photo probably in five different areas of the Safeco so that she could print it up to put in her Mother's Day M's photo frame. I still need to email her this photo...whoops...

Of course this is a food blog so I won't just talk about the M's game, but about our pre-game meal at Mike's Noodle House.

Mike's is located in the International District, which is a ten minute stroll away from both Safeco and Qwest Field. Next time you go to a game, you should check this place out. Just remember to bring cash. It's one of my favorite ID food spots.

Mike's is located right across the street from the small public park in the International District. You can't miss the big red awning. Mike's is small, but people move in and out pretty quickly so you never have to wait long.

They are best known for their soup and congee. I'm not as experienced with congee so usually stick with their egg noodle soup. Their broth is amazing, but equally delicious is their sui-kau (dumplings with shrimp, mushrooms, onions, water chestnuts, onions) and beef brisket. Their won ton soup is really popular as well.

Next time you're craving some good noodles head over to Mike's Noodle House because you won't be disappointed.

- Kyle

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pho 99

One of the benefits of living up north is all of the great Asian restaurants in the area. Relating to one of our regular spots, Pho 99, it took us awhile to actually try the place mainly because it looks like the type of place where you might find a cigarette butt in your pho. However, one of my coworkers has been frequenting Pho 99 for awhile now and highly recommended it to Emi and I. We're always looking for a nice, hot, quick meal so pho is frequently on our minds. We were pleasantly surprised when we finally tried it out and wanted to share our experience with everyone.
Pho 99 is right off of Aurora and about a block away from Costco. Next time you make your way up to Costco, put the $1 hot dog and sample food on hold and come get some pho from Pho 99.

Good restaurants understand that the details are just as important as the meal itself. Every customer is greeted with a glass of sweet, refreshing lychee juice to sip on while you wait for your meal.

They have amazing fresh spring rolls that we highly recommend. They don't skimp on the shrimp or waste any space with filler. We also really like their peanut dipping sauce.

One of their more unique dishes is their Vietnamese crepes. It's one of the house specialties. I had never heard of it before going to Pho 99. The crepe consists of egg and coconut milk and is filled with green onions, bean sprouts, and your choice of meat, I prefer shrimp. What I like to do is wrap some fresh basil and mint in romaine with the crepe and dip it in the fish sauce. It can get a little messy, but is an amazing mix of flavors. The sweet and sour flavor of the sauce goes really well with the salty coconut shrimp crepe.

Emi wanted to try something different and ordered their BBQ pork egg noodle soup. What sets aside Pho 99's soup is their broth. You can tell that they don't use the instant broth that most pho restaurants use. If you've noticed that pho can taste the same from place to place, it's probably because they use instant broth. If you do get pho at Pho 99 definitely try the chicken pho which is our favorite because they also add in a lot of vegetables making it delicious, but also healthy.

If anyone is ever in the neighborhood or in need of a quick hangover cure that only pho can remedy make sure to let us know!

- Kyle

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My grandmother's 88th birthday

My family recently threw my grandmother a big party for her 88th birthday which is a special age within the Japanese American culture. My grandmother has always been the primary cook of the family, from random get togethers to New Year's parties. My grandmother can always be found in the kitchen cooking up a storm. She was my earliest influence on eating and appreciating a good meal. I can probably credit a few pounds of childhood chub to her many delicious meals.

My grandparents wedding picture

Decorations for the party

My Mom and Aunt planned the party and the rest of us pitched in to make it a fun and memorable meal for her birthday. The theme was Japanese food. We had everything from sushi to tonkatsu and yakisoba.

My Mom and Aunt pre-made and hand folded gyoza which are the Japanese equivalent of potstickers. Gyoza are usually filled with green onions, ground pork, garlic, water chestnuts, garlic, sesame oil, sugar and soy sauce. You can fry them up in oil and then steam them to finish them.

My Mom fried up some tonkatsu which is a pork cutlet breaded in panko and deep fried

A sushi/sashimi platter from Uwajimaya. Usually my grandmother makes the sushi, but obviously since the party was for her we didn't want her to have to do anything. Also since it takes so much time to make sushi, we decided to buy a platter from Uwajimaya instead. So if you ever need a high quality sushi platter now you know where to go.

Emi and I made fruit skewers with honey mangoes, pineapple, Muscat grapes, strawberries, and watermelon.

Inspired by our favorite refreshing lychee drink at Pho 99 we decided to make a similar flavored refreshment for the party. We added lychee juice to the water and added in fresh mint leaves, and sections of blood orange. We also added in a little simple syrup to sweeten the drink. We finished each drink with some lychee fruit at the bottom of every cup.

My other Aunt who is well known for her baking expertise, made a very special cake for my grandmother's birthday. My grandmother likes cherry blossoms and as you can see from this photo that is exactly what my Aunt used as her inspiration for the cake design. Everything was edible from the fondant cherry blossoms to the moist and delicious interior chocolate cake.

In this picture you can see how intricate the flowers were. She handmade each flower individually and rolled on the glitter sprinkles and also inserted the little dots on the interior.

My happy and full grandparents after the party.

- Kyle

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Bobby Flay's Crunch Burger

Ali, Emi's good friend bought her Bobby Flay's Burgers, Fries, and Shakes for Christmas. We've been waiting a long time for BBQ weather so that we could finally pull out the book to try out some of Bobby's recipes.

This past weekend with the sun out and the weather in the mid 70's we decided it was the perfect weather to finally have some people over to BBQ. The book is filled with tons of fun burger and milkshake recipes that I'm sure we will test out this summer, but we wanted to start out with Bobby's signature burger the Crunch Burger.

Directions (recipe makes 4 burgers):
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground chuck (80% lean) - fat is flavor so look for at least 20% fat
  • First heat up the BBQ - I prefer charcoal and make sure it is nice and hot before cooking, briquettes should be glowing orange and starting to turn ashy.
  • Make the horseradish mustard mayonnaise in advance.
  • Whip together 1/4 C mayo, 2 T dijon mustard, 1-2 t of horseradish (depends on how spicy you want it to be), salt and pepper. Let it sit covered in the fridge for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to combine.
  • Divide the meat into four equal portions and loosely form into 3/4 inch patties
  • Make a deep depression in the center of each patty with your thumb. This will keep your patties from turning into hockey pucks and the depressions will disappear as the patties cook.
  • Season with Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper on both sides
  • Brush on 1 1/2 T of Canola oil over both sides of all of the patties
  • Throw on the BBQ and cook for 4 minutes on one side, then flip and cook for 3 minutes on the other.
  • Add on 2 slices of American cheese and cover the BBQ and allow to cook for another minute or two, until the cheese is melted. This will result in the burgers being medium-rare, cook an extra minute for medium. Remember to not push down on the burgers with your spatula this will squeeze out the juices and may also cause your BBQ to flame up.
  • Toast each side of a potato bun on the BBQ
  • Place the cooked patty on the bottom of the bun, top with lettuce, tomato, red onion (we didn't do onions), a dollop of the horseradish mustard mayonnaise and a handful of potato chips.
This is a great burger, it's deliciously simple. I love the smoky flavor that only a charcoal BBQ can give a hamburger and American cheese is the only cheese to enjoy on a cheeseburger. The horseradish mustard mayonnaise is what makes this burger special. It's not overpowering, but both sweet and a little spicy and adds a great flavor to the burger. However, what brings this burger to another level is the potato chips, hence the name the "Crunch Burger".

Make sure to try out this burger at your next BBQ because it's really easy to make, yet you'll impress with the added horseradish mustard mayo and the creative use of potato chips.

- Kyle

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Fred Hutchinson Travel & Leisure Auction

Kyle and I are a part of the Fred Hutchinson's Innovators Network, a group for those under 45 that are dedicated to supporting cancer research. We joined last year and have had a blast attending the quarterly happy hours and fundraisers that are filled with good company, plenty of drinks and wonderful food! Last year we attended the Holiday Gala, which was by far the most amazing event we've ever attended!

Saturday was the Annual Travel and Leisure Auction that is put on by the Margaret E. Martindale Guild. The theme was "Bourbon Street" and oozed New Orleans flavor with dueling pianos from Chopstix and drinks galore!

There were beautiful hand blown glass vases and votive candle holders as the centerpieces. They were auctioned off to raise money for the Hutch. You can also see our plated appetizers of chilled poached prawns and a delicious creamy cocktail sauce.

The salad was really tasty--romaine lettuce, egg, heirloom tomatoes (I am so happy it is almost tomato season!) and a creamy dressing.

Kyle got the beef tenderloin with a truffle scented port wine reduction, potato gratin and fresh asparagus. The sauce really made the dish stand out.

I got the foraged mushroom ravioli with porcini mushroom cream and fresh asparagus. Can't go wrong with creamy pasta!

There were alternating desserts--I very appropriately got the chocolate option.

Kyle got the bread pudding...mine was better though!

If you are interested in joining the Innovators Network and want to attend fun events like this with Kyle and I, please do let us know! It is a fabulous group with an obviously important and valuable cause.
Happy Eating,

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Recipe of the week: Grilled Veggie Salad

Here comes another salad recipe that involves grilling! It's inspired by a Giada recipe, which is usually a good thing. I decided to add some grilled shrimp using my favorite go-to recipe. Follow the hyper-link here to the recipe. It is absolutely scrumptious, filling and healthy and is the perfect addition to a summer bbq....ahh, wishing it was summer already!

This salad is beautifully bright and colorful!
Wish tons of veggies and protien from the shrimp, this is a true healthful, well rounded salad that could be a served as a main dish.

Japanese Eggplant
Cherry Tomatoes
Romaine Lettuce
Grilled Shrimp (optional, but delicious!)
Olive oil for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

3 TBS fresh lemon juice
3 TBS Olive Oil
1 1/2 TBS Honey
salt and pepper

Cut the ends off the zucchini and eggplant and slice lengthwise into 1/4 inch thick strips. Drizzle asparagus, eggplant, and zucchini with some olive oil and salt and pepper and throw on the grill until veggies are soft and have some nice grill marks. You can also grill the romaine as I suggest in last week's recipe, but I found that the salad needed a little crispness, so I would also recommend saving some non-grilled romaine for the salad.

Chop the grilled veggies, romaine, tomatoes, and avocado into bite size pieces and place in large salad bowl. Top with grilled shrimp.

In a separate bowl combine honey and lemon juice and whisk. Add in olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Toss with Salad and enjoy!

Happy Eating,