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I actually managed to cook something AND take a picture of it. It happens to be nutritious, delicious, and cheap, which are added bonuses.

This is another recipe to go into the “how to convince someone tofu is good” file. Again, I’d like to mention — when I cook “Asian” cuisine, it is pretty much a mash-up of all different Asian flavors with no rhyme or reason. I am no expert in authenticity, I just know what tastes nice, and soy + sesame + scallions + orange + ginger + garlic = somewhat Asian deliciousness.

I’ve also recently become obsessed with flavored rice. Coconut rice is awesome (just cook rice in light coconut milk instead of water, and voila! Goes great with any Thai dish), rice with onions and thai chilis, rice cooked in chicken stock, doused in cilantro puree…whatever strikes my fancy. So here are the recipes, of my own invention even. I feel so much better!

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OK, I’m exaggerating. I fail at…consistently blogging. But I have reasons!

1. Grad school applications
2. Studying for the GRE (see #1)
3. Cook-offs
4. Laziness

The thing is, I’ve been cooking plenty, just not really documenting it so well. And frankly, I don’t think saying I made a recipe and then linking to said recipe on another blog is really that worthy of a post. PLUS much of my cooking has been recipe testing for cook-offs….and I can’t very well post my recipe before the actual cook-off happens, now can I?

I can’t promise that over the next few weeks I will be much better, but I will at least try to take a couple pictures of the end product if I do cook something successfully.

AND! Fierce & Sweet is just 2 weeks away, and tickets are now on sale. All the cool people are going.


I’ve been putting off making pizza dough, partly because it is so cheap to buy at Trader Joe’s, and partly because it involves yeast and yeast involves waiting around.

But this was so ridiculously easy that I really have no excuse anymore. Granted, not so easy on a weeknight, but for a weekend it’s perfect. Dough recipe after the jump.

I had some cheese left over from the cheese experiment last week, and my favorite mozzarella application (besides lasagna, of course) is pizza. This time I made 2 pizzas:

Pizza 1 – thin layer of tomato sauce, topped with mozzarella and slices of prosciutto


Pizza 2 – no sauce, just a brush of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, topped with mozzarella, fontina, and goat cheese and caramelized onions with balsamic and sage.


My favorite onion caramelization technique is courtesy of Mark Bittman: put your sliced onions in a dry, non-stick or cast iron pan. Cover them. Let the water sweat out and cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally. When the onions are nice and brown (once the water cooks out they begin to brown) add a small amount of olive oil to the pan to finish cooking them. Then I added about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and a tablespoon of chopped fresh sage and turned off the heat.

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I made recipe cards for the competition again this time around, so here it is. Just because it lost doesn’t mean it isn’t tasty!


10 – 12 lasagna noodles, cooked al dente
1 recipe tomato sauce (follows)
1 recipe fontina bechamel (follows)
1 1/2 lb. mozzarella, sliced or shredded
1 c. grated parmeggiano reggiano
1 1/2 c. fresh ricotta

Preheat your oven to 375˚. Ladle a small amount of tomato sauce into a 13x9x2 pan and spread out to coat the bottom of the pan. Add one layer of lasagna noodles (3 – 4 noodles, overlapping slightly). Add a generous amount of tomato sauce. Top with 1/2 of the ricotta in dollops (it will melt and spread out as the lasagna cooks). Top with 1/3 of the mozzarella and grated parmeggiano. Add another layer of noodles, a thin layer of tomato sauce, and the fontina béchamel. Add the rest of the ricotta, 1/3 of the mozzarella and grated parmiggiano. Add one final layer of noodles and a generous amount of tomato sauce and then top with final 1/3 of mozzarella and parmiggiano. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, or until heated through and bubbling. Let cool for at least 5 – 10 minutes before digging in!

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Well, another competition has come and gone.

It was a really fun event, as expected. No prizes for little old me this time, but you know what? I feel just as good as I did after the beer experiment, because once again I got to spend the day with so many amazingly vibrant people. Make fun of me all you like, but winning isn’t everything. A lesson for the ages. I’m sure the more of these I do, the more competitors I’ll know or recognize, but this event included dishes from Frankie of The Young & Hungry, and Cathy of Not Eating Out in New York.

Despite the third degree burn on my finger from a half dropped lasagna (believe me, the aftermath is not pretty), I managed to make it through the day unscathed, unless you count the fact that I ran out of lasagna way, way sooner than I thought I would. There was also some pre-event excitement with a little documentary crew filming me prepping on Saturday, so I got to pretend for a minute like I had my own show. I know now that I wouldn’t make it 5 minutes on reality TV! Thanks to Santiago, Joe, and Mindy, and of course Nick and Theo. Good times.


Once again I didn’t really get to taste many of the competitors’ dishes, but I did manage to sneak one of Bonnie Suarez’s winning spicy cheese crackers and tomato soup — delicious! Anyhoo, Brian’s cousin Brian (ha ha) took a ton of pictures during the event, which I’ll post when I get them. He’s quite the talented photographer, so I can’t wait. On to Fierce and Sweet!


I love this time of year. New York has come through with phenomenal weather this past week, that crisp, cool weather that seems so rare. Fall obviously means “back to school”, and although I am not heading off to class tomorrow, there is a sense of newness and anticipation that fall brings no matter what. Melancholy usually accompanies it, but I like that too.

It seems appropriate then that today I made graham crackers. They seem like such a school snack, and not something you’d really think to make yourself. But I’m making cheesecake bars for my bake-off in October, and thought making my own graham crackers for the crust would be stepping it up a notch. I won’t repeat the recipe here, you can find it at Smitten Kitchen — I made one mistake of using all “white whole wheat” flour instead of part all-purpose and part whole wheat, so I think mine came out a tiny bit tough because of it. But these are super tasty and crunchy, and with some peanut butter on them, they’re a perfect snack, whether you’re headed off to school with your backpack or just off to another day in the rat race!


I think I’m biased against food trucks in New York because they all seem to serve the same unidentifiable meat chopped up and covered in hot sauce over rice. Which, don’t get me wrong, is kind of delicious in a risking-your-own-life kind of way, but it’s not exactly groundbreaking cuisine. Lately a few new trucks have rolled into town, though. One of the newest is the Bistro Truck on 5th Ave and 17th. And it’s awesome.

Now, I’ve only tried their Belgium Fries with Harissa Mayo (shouldn’t it be Belgian fries?) and their vegetable cigar appetizer (basically a delicious veggie spring roll with homemade phyllo dough instead of wonton), but both were excellent and very inexpensive. But I will definitely go back, because they have a veggie tagine on their menu and a bunch of delicious-sounding sandwiches on the menu too. And the guys were really nice. Check it out, and join their Facebook fan club!

Picture 2

September 13. The Bell House in Brooklyn. More cheese and beer than your little heart could ever desire. I’m competing with my Lasagna Cheese-o-Rama, so don’t you dare miss it!

Tickets will sell out before the day, so get them here:

The Food Experiments


I’m slightly embarrassed that I need outside sources to know where the best food is in Portland — blogs, magazines, the Food Network — since I suppose I’m from there. But in my defense, I haven’t actually lived there in 8 years, and even then I was in high school. Not exactly taking myself across town to find the best ingredients, or throwing down money on fancy dinners.

The food scene in Portland has also exploded in recent years, and I just haven’t spent enough time there to figure it out. So my visit to Otto’s Sausage Co. in the Woodstock area was based on seeing a feature on, don’t laugh, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. As annoying as you may find Guy Fieri, I do think the show manages to uncover some hidden (or not so hidden) gems.

Sausages are a weakness of mine — well, hot dogs, to be more specific. They’re one guilty pleasure that I ate as a kid and still crave. So when I heard about Otto’s, I had to go, especially since my parents actually have a grill on which to cook these delicious sausages. It’s an unassuming little place that feels a bit like it was plucked from the past and dropped into 2009, and when we arrived, there was an outdoor grill set up and plenty of folks chowing down at picnic tables, even on a Monday afternoon.

We picked up a selection of Kielbasa, frankfurters, and smoked pork sausages. These sausages had that signature good hot dog snap, the kind of gross yet very satisfying moment your teeth break through the casing. I didn’t get any pictures of the actual sausages, mostly out of laziness, but I’ll use the excuse that we ate them before I had a chance!


So I’m back at work. How did that happen?? One minute I was cruising through the Northwest countryside, and now I’m staring at my computer screen again. Sigh. I’ll always have the memories. I still have at least one more vacation-related post after this one, so just hang onto your hats.

I had a lot of wonderful food-related experiences while on vacation, but perhaps the most impressive was dinner at Bizzarro in Seattle. Bizzarro is an Italian cafe in the Green Lake neighborhood, a bit off the beaten path, and I’d heard it was incredible. The place is tiny, and the decor is kitschy and warm, with furniture hanging from the ceiling and wooly fake spiders swinging from the chandeliers. To give you an idea of how popular this place is, we arrived at 6:45 on a Tuesday night and had to wait an hour for a table.

It was worth the wait.


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