Cookbook Excerpt: I Love You Meals

Cookbook Excerpt: I Love You Meals

The following is an excerpt from Food With My Friends, the debut cookbook by Chris Kohatsu, now available in eBook, iBook and printed versions.  Photographs by Stephanie Cameron.  All rights reserved.

Special Occasions, Date Nights & I Love You Meals

I can’t help but giggle as I write this. I’ve never been lucky in love. I’ve dated a lot, and I’ve certainly had my fair share of short-term relationships, but when it comes to true love I always strike out as if I were up against the best baseball pitcher in the world.

A few years ago, I was fortunate to start a wonderful relationship with Ron, and while we are no longer romantically involved, we remain good friends. He and I have shared more dishes than I can count. When I told him I was writing a cookbook, he quickly rattled off his favorites from all of the foods I’ve made for him over the years. I narrowed his choices down to four meals that I happily share with you here.

A romantic meal has to be genuine and full of thought, with elements of fun. I like to keep it casual, unique and somewhat light. You’ll need your energy for other activities during the night (and a reason to have a good breakfast in the morning)!

The following meals have been portioned for two people, but can easily be adjusted to accommodate a double date or larger family gathering. I’ve also included steps to ensure that all of the elements come together perfectly, as timing is everything.

If you are lucky enough to be in the kitchen with a special someone, these meals will practically make themselves in no time. If you want to impress someone, you can easily make any of these on your own.

Alternatively, if you’re like me and love to wish and hope and pray for a magical moment—practice, practice, practice these recipes. You just never know when you’ll need to have an “I Love You” meal at the ready!

Balsamic Marinated Steak with Spinach & Strawberry Salad

Serves 2

For the Marinade:
⅔ cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 garlic cloves, smashed

For the Steaks:
2 New York strip steaks
Salt and pepper to taste

For the Salad:

Follow Raspberry Vinaigrette recipe, substitute strawberry jam
2 cups fresh spinach leaves
4 small or 2 large fresh strawberries
¼ cup sliced almonds

1. Start the Marinade
In a non-reactive dish or re-sealable plastic bag, mix the vinegar, brown sugar and garlic cloves.

With a fork, prick the steaks all over. Place the steaks in the marinade and refrigerate for one hour. Thirty minutes prior to grilling, remove from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature.

2. Light the Grill
Heat the grill to high heat. Brush and oil the grill as needed.

Remove steaks from marinade and allow excess marinade to run off. Salt and pepper the steaks then place on grill. A thin-cut steak should be turned after 1-2 minutes. Thicker cut steaks will need 3-4 minutes per side.

Once steaks are finished, remove from grill and tent with foil. Allow steaks to rest for five minutes.

3. Make the Dressing
In a glass jar or leak proof container, shake the ingredients to make the vinaigrette. Refrigerate or set aside. Can be made 1 day in advance.

On plate, assemble a handful of spinach. Slice 1 large or 2 medium strawberries on top of spinach. Drizzle with vinaigrette then sprinkle with almonds.

4. Slice and Serve
Slice steak into strips, holding your knife at an angle and slicing across the grain. Serve steak and salad and enjoy immediately.

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Comfort Me in Macaroni and Cheese

Comfort Me in Macaroni and Cheese

There are certain things that will instantly make me happy:

  • spending hours in comfortable pajamas

    Bacon and Peas Macaroni and Cheese!

  • chewing on sour patch kids
  • drinking margaritas on the rocks
  • petting a happy dog
  • going on a long, scenic walk
  • diving into a delicious plate of macaroni and cheese
I did all of these things last week, as I went through a very shitty experience.  Yeah, I said it, and yes, it’s crude, but that’s the best word to describe what I went through. I did all of the above and did it with my friends.  And now, I’m in a much happier place!
Previously, I posted two of my favorite mac ‘n cheese recipes, and now, I’m pleased to share my Bacon and Peas Macaroni and Cheese.  Hee, hee, hee….. just saying it makes me happy.
When tackling this recipe, take your time and play happy music.  Use the microwave for an easy way to crisp the bacon.  You can choose to blanche the peas or you can just throw them in the casserole.  Shred your own cheese if you choose, or simply open a bag of pre-grated.  Who cares?   I make this recipe whenever I need to get out of a funk.  It makes me happy, and I hope it does the same for you.
I owe a world of thanks to all of my backers, but especially to the friends who encouraged me to get up and keep going — Korey, Jen, Michelle, Liza, Jason, Ray, Jeremiah and Stevens — big hugs to each of you.  The pity party is over, thanks for the drinks!
Bacon and Peas Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 5 people (4 normal people and 1 person down in the dumps)
3 cups small sea shell pasta (or elbow macaroni)
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup frozen peas
5 strips cooked bacon, crumbled
4 ounces sharp white cheddar, grated
4 ounces sharp yellow cheddar, grated
1 12 ounce can evaporated milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tablespoon grated nutmeg
Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cook the noodles in boiling salted water until al dente.  Drain but do not rinse. Return noodles to the pot and add the butter.  Mix until butter is melted and all the noodles are coated.  Set aside.
  3. Butter a 8×8 square baking dish or use vegetable spray.
  4. Beat the eggs with the two milks.
  5. Pour a layer of noodles into the baking dish.  Top with a layer of crumbled bacon, and a handful of the peas.  Add a handful of the two types of cheeses and pour half of the milk mixture over the noodles.  Repeat this process until you reach the top of the dish.  You may or may not use all of the milk mixture.  I usually have about 4 ounces remaining (sorry, but it’s true).
  6. Sprinkle the top layer with nutmeg, cracked black pepper and salt if desired.  Bake for 30 minutes until cheese is browned and bubbling.  Allow to stand for 10 minutes, then serve.  Enjoy with friends immediately.

A small square of happiness!

My Cookbook: A Sneak Peek!

My Cookbook: A Sneak Peek!

Did you like what you saw?

Yesterday, I released a few pics from my upcoming cookbook through my Facebook page.  The support, enthusiasm and encouragement have been overwhelming.  You guys are the best!

The idea for a sneak peek came during a conference call with my book team.  As previously mentioned, the photography for my book is provided by Stephanie Cameron.  If you like what you’ve seen so far, just wait for the food shots…  they are scrumptious!  The other person on the team is my editor, Larry Closs.  Larry is a fascinating, fun, intelligent and just all around wonderful person (and he’s releasing his first novel very soon).  Together, the three of us are quite the force to be reckoned with. 

My passion for food is matched uniquely with Stephanie’s background in fine arts.  Together we create beautiful images of the recipes featured in my cookbook.  Larry’s mastery of communication (a graduate degree in Journalism and undergraduate in English) along with his extensive work in publishing helps me to communicate my true intent along with refinement of my voice.

The incredibly talented, Larry Closs

It’s a fantastic feeling to work with a team of people who are as committed to a project as you are.  There’s a level of energy present that I haven’t felt for awhile.  To know that I have the dedication, talents and commitment of both Steph and Larry is an amazing gift that makes me entirely grateful and extremely humbled. 

And then to have you, my friends and faithful readers, cheering this project on…. it’s nothing short of amazing.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I think I’ll leave you with one more sneak peek….. this time, a food shot.  Enjoy.

 

Photography and Design by Stephanie Cameron

Photography and Design by Stephanie Cameron

When Stephanie started posting pictures of food made in her home kitchen, I was excited to flip through her album.  Every picture was carefully thought out, from the plate environment, to the garnish and the balance of colors.  What else could be expected from someone like Steph?

Stephanie Cameron is a muralist, model maker, sculpter, painter and photographer.  A student trained in classical fine arts (concentrated in painting) she’s spent the better part of the past two decades honing her digital skills in graphic design, website work and photography.  She’s the Marketing Manager of Createasphere, a wife, mother, friend to many, and I’m also very happy to say, the designer and photographer of my cookbook.

If you follow any of Stephanie’s work, the common thread weaving through her pieces is a strong sense of commitment, dedication, practice and patience.  In fact, the best word to describe her artistic process is: discipline.  “You’ve got to be disciplined as an artist,” Steph says, “to keep working every day, honing your skills, improving your technique, expressing what you visualize and sharing that with others.”

She is married to an artist, visual effects specialist D. Walt Cameron, and the couple raise their two children in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  While holding down a full-time career (and managing to create family supper every night) Stephanie also disciplines herself to work on art every day.  Currently, her focus is on food photography, which makes her such a great fit for my book.

Steph and I have put our heads together to create images and scenes of food with feeling.  We want visuals that inspire, inform and most of all, encourage.  While the pictures from the cookbook aren’t yet ready for release, you can take a look at some of the photos Stephanie created with her family here.

“Balancing the subject with emotion,” says Stephanie, “creating and stirring emotions, that’s what art is, and that’s what I’m excited to create.” 

Me too, Stephanie, me too.  I can’t wait to release our work to the world!

Writing a Cookbook: Against the Odds

Writing a Cookbook: Against the Odds

There are hundreds of reasons NOT to write a cookbook.  Among the top deterrents:

  • You need to be a celebrity (or married to one)
  • You should be associated with a restaurant
  • You must have plenty of exposure
  • You should come with a product

Of all the reasons not to write a cookbook, I can’t seem to find anything that relates to understanding food or cooking abilities.

Cookbooks are big business.  A handful of select publishers own the majority of the market, churning out cookbooks that are bought everyday by the masses.  If you’re interested in writing a cookbook, you spend the better part of a year writing a book proposal and the publisher spends the better part of another year reviewing your proposal.  You would likely do the same searching for an agent.  If you’re lucky enough to get an offer, the publisher will tell you what to write, then direct the book, its theme, design and layout.  You might get an advance, you might not.  You might be a hit, you might not.  That’s the cookbook process in a nutshell.

Looking at the process is discouraging, to say the least.  It’s daunting, it’s monstrous and it’s setup for people like me to get rejected.  But just because I’m unable to complete this process, does that mean I should stop writing?  Certainly not.

My thanks to Alison Scutte for this pic!

Like so many other people, I’m hopeful at the prospect of self publishing.  I love the idea of putting myself in the driver’s seat and seeing a project to completion.  I am thrilled to be involved in a true labor of love, and thankfully, I’m not doing this alone.

For almost a decade, I have been collecting and writing recipes, simply because I’ve wanted to publish them.  Some of the recipes are posted here, most have been experimented with for various parties and events (my friends are great as a test kitchen) and several recipes have yet to be completed.  With each recipe there is a story, many happy memories, a few adventures and plenty of laughs.

Is this the type of book that’s appealing to a publisher?  Probably not.  It would likely be seen as a collection of personal experiences woven through a close knit circle of friends.  Not likely to have mass appeal. 

But through my eyes,  it’s a gift I’d like to give to my friends, a joy I want to share with my Facebook and Twitter followers and a personal project I want to accomplish for myself.  So, dear friends, a cookbook by yours truly is forth coming.  And I can’t wait to release it.  Right here.  Stay tuned.

Cheers to Something Exciting!

Spring Baking Tips: 5 Ways to Get Great Results

Spring Baking Tips: 5 Ways to Get Great Results

The "Sweetest Blooms" Cupcake Kit by Very Different Cakes

With Spring holidays just around the corner, home kitchens fill with warm ovens and the aromas of buttery crusts, caramelized sugars and toasted nuts.  Easter cakes, flourless Passover desserts and Spring picnic pies emerge, bringing out the pastry chef, confectioner and lover of butter in all of us.   To the successful baker, this also triggers the release of a mad scientist from our minds.

The key to good baking is to realize the science behind each recipe, that is, the how and why for each ingredient and the process of baking. 

For example, butter and lard maybe used interchangeably, but often yield different results.  Butter has a certain moisture content as it is made with water.  Lard has very little, resulting in very flakey and crumbly pie crusts, while butter is richer in taste.  Measurements, time and temperature are just as important as the ingredients — with the best results achieved through methodic technique and careful execution. 

If I were to list my top five ways to acheive great baking results, they would be:

  1. Nordic Ware Vintage Bunny Pan

    Pre-heat the oven.

      Every oven has hot and cold spots, so it’s important to know where they are and what to do to minimalize un-even heating. Get the oven nice and hot at least fifteen minutes prior to inserting food.  

  2. Bring all ingredients to room temperature.  I can’t state this enough.  The exception, of course, is when stated otherwise in a recipe, such as with biscuits or pie crusts which usually call for cold butter.  In other cases, I say gather your ingredients (particularly milk, butter and eggs) and let them sit out for at least an hour before starting your recipe.
  3. Use the right tools.  Baking requires a certain amount of tools in order to be done correctly.  Liquid and solid measuring cups are just the beginning, with the proper spatula, beaters and sheet tray required.  Also, paper products, such as parchment, foil and plastic wrap are used in various ways, so it’s important to know which will perform best with the tools you have. 
  4. Set a timer.  Baked goods typically have a designated cook time and the best way to track that is with a kitchen timer.  During baking time, it is important to leave the food un-disturbed in the oven.  Just opening the door a crack can alter the oven temperature and produce un-even heat distribution.  If you must check on an item, I suggest waiting until five minutes prior to the end of the designated cook time.
  5. Know your techniques.  For example, if you are told to fold an ingredient, know this is different from mixing or beating.  The same goes for piping, scooping and plating.  Become familiar with all kinds of techniques (and their differences) and know when to apply appropriately.

This weekend, I’ll be sharing baking tips like these and more during HSN’s Spring Baking shows.  Some of the products you’ll see me talk about include the Nordic Ware Bunny and Lamb pans and the fantastic Very Different Cake Ladybug and Cupcake Blooms kit.  These products are perfect for Spring time baking, so please tune in for my baking tips and ideas!

Q & A with Masaharu Morimoto and Takashi Yagihashi

Q & A with Masaharu Morimoto and Takashi Yagihashi

This is PART TWO of my amazing evening with Chefs Morimoto and Yagihashi.  To start at the beginning, click here for “Dinner with an Iron Chef” 

Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto

CK: Chef Morimoto, you’ve cooked for people all around the world, from celebrities to every day diners.  Is there anyone that would make you nervous to prepare a meal for?

Morimoto: No.  I don’t cook for anyone but myself.  Even when I’m on Iron Chef and supposedly cooking for judges, I’m really cooking for myself.  Everyday, I challenge myself to be a better cook.

CK: If you’re cooking for yourself, what are you making?  What foods comfort you?

Morimoto: I enjoy everything.  My comfort food would have to be Japanese food.  I could eat it everyday.  I like Thai, French, Italian foods, but I couldn’t eat it everyday.  People like to categorize me and my restaurants as serving Japanese food.  But it’s not.  It’s my food, influenced by my Japanese roots.  Again, I cook for me.

Yagihashi: Noodles are my comfort food.  I could eat them everyday.  Of course, there’s such diversity in noodles, there’s so many different kinds and you can’t forget about pasta.  I could eat it all everyday.

Chef Takashi Yagihashi

CK: So how did tonight’s event come about?

Morimoto: Actually, it’s a funny story.  Takashi called me and asked if I wanted to do an event.  I said sure and didn’t give it another thought.  He planned the menu, he prepared everything, he got all the ingredients.  I just left it up to him.  I didn’t check on anything. I trust him as we’ve known each other a long time.

 CK: How did you and Takashi meet?

Morimoto: Takashi knew Nobu-san (Nobu Matsuhisa) before he met me.  One day, Takashi came into Nobu Restaurant while I was working.  He told me he needed fish to be cut and I started working right away.  That’s why he (Takashi) liked me.

Yagihashi: We’ve known each other for at least 15 years.  He’s been here (in my restaurant) before and he’s seen me in the kitchen.  We trust each other and that means a lot.

CK: You’ve both described your cooking as “global cuisine.”  What do we have to look forward to in global cuisine?

Morimoto: I’m learning more and more about endangered species and overfishing.  My skills and background are

Morimoto's Foie Gras Chawanmushi

based in seafood and Japanese people eat a lot of seafood.  I think Americans need to learn more about seafood and I need to learn more about sustainable seafood. 

Yagihashi: Tastes are changing.  I came to the United States twenty-five years ago and people never said ‘Let’s go eat Japanese.’  Now, people not only say ‘Let’s go eat Japanese,’ they specify what kind of Japanese: sushi, ramen and either authentic or more creative Japanese.

As I get older, I find myself wanting healthier foods, more vegetables, less creams, less salt.  I love seasonal vegetables whereas when I was younger I wanted a lot of proteins and meats.  So for me, I guess you can say I’ll be cooking a lot more healthy stuff, just because my tastes have changed.

 CK: Are there any up and coming chefs that you like to keep your eye on?

Morimoto: Lots of chefs come and go.  Who’s a chef, what makes a chef, it changes all the time.  I guess I like Michimi-san, he works in my kitchen.  He’s young, energetic and works hard.

Yagihashi: I don’t know many young chefs, but I do know Chef Paul at Vie Restaurant here in Chicago.  He’s very good and great at using local foods.

CK: Do you see yourself slowing down or retiring anytime soon?  What’s next?  Another book, another restaurant?

Morimoto: I have restaurants, I have knives, I have beer and sake, I have a cookbook.  I don’t need to do anything else.  People ask me to create t-shirts, hats, cookware. I don’t want that.  I want to cook and make what I like.  I have a theory, it’s that life is about not only having big dreams but a big foundation.

Morimoto and Yagihashi enjoy a laugh with Ming Tsai

Life is about multiples.  If you act like a zero, then nothing will happen to you.  But if you act like a number, a big number with big work, then you’ll get big rewards.  I’ve dreamed big, but my dreams were in big actions.  Every dream had multiple hours of work behind it.  I’m not a zero and I don’t want negative returns.

Yagihashi: I’m not going to die in the kitchen, that’s for sure.  But I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.  I think if there’s ever a day when I don’t want to come to work, then it’s time for me to retire.  I’m working on a book about Japanese street foods.  It’ll feature a little bit of izakaya, yakitori, oden (fish cakes) and really it’s about comfort food.

I have three beautiful children and I take them to Japan so they can learn about their culture.  I think the world is getting smaller and the more we can widen our views, the better we’ll be.

Sunday Slow Cooked Short Ribs

Sunday Slow Cooked Short Ribs

If Monday’s are supposed to be meatless and Friday’s are for fish, then I say Sunday’s are for slow-cooked dinners.  Break out your crock-pots, take out a tajine or simply stand over your stovetop and let’s make Sunday supper something we can discuss and share for the rest of the week.  Why not?

My short ribs, served with mashed potatoes

One of my favorite items to slow cook is short ribs.  These wonderful cuts of meat are so tender and flavorful, I always make extra and use the leftovers in a rich meat ragu or hearty sandwich. I’m not sure if they are prepared other ways besides braised (perhaps the exception is grilled for Korean BBQ) but essentially, you prep short ribs for the oven and then walk away. They braise for three hours while filling your home with the most wonderful aromas.

Slow cooking is relatively easy and most kitchen cooks appreciate the simplicity of recipes.  What is difficult is managing your patience.  The key to a perfectly made slow cooked meal is in the planning, so manage your time wisely!

The Balthazar Restaurant

If you happen to be in Manhattan and can grab a table at the Balthazar bistro, treat yourself to the short ribs –they are so good!  For the rest of us, simply follow the recipe I’ve posted below.

I use Hanson Vineyards Pinot Noir, as it has hints of cherry and black pepper which adds a special earthiness to the sauce.  Short ribs, in my opinion, should be served with creamy mashed potatoes, however, this recipe includes a very savory gravy so it’s also great with any type of pasta.

The short ribs will linger for a while on your tongue, leaving a fine velvety finish.  If you’re looking for a way to romance or impress someone, this is one recipe to try!

Short Ribs (from the Balthazar cookbook)

  • 6 pounds short ribs
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 6 shallots, peeled and quartered
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup ruby port wine
  • 4 cups full-bodied red wine (I used Hanson Vineyards)
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 10 sprigs parsley
  • 8 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 head garlic, halved crosswise
  • 4 cups veal stock
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Tie each short rib with kitchen string, and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, and brown short ribs on each side. Remove short ribs and cook carrots, celery, onions, and shallots until onions and shallots turn golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Add tomato paste and flour, and cook 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Return short ribs to the pot and deglaze with port and red wines. Cook until wine is reduced by 2/3. To make the bouquet garni, bunch rosemary, parsley, thyme, and bay leaves together, then tie the bundle with kitchen string. Add bouquet garni, garlic, and stock to pot. Bring to a boil and cover. Transfer to oven and cook until meat is fork-tender, about 3 hours.
  3. Transfer short ribs to large platter. Strain sauce through a fine sieve or cheesecloth into a medium-size saucepan. Reduce sauce over medium heat until it thickens to a gravy-like consistency. Adjust seasonings to taste, spoon sauce over short ribs and serve.
I Dream of Tajine: A New Take on Old World Technique

I Dream of Tajine: A New Take on Old World Technique

If there’s a cuisine I adore, it’s Moroccan.  Savory, sweet and always full of flavor, Moroccan food is simply amazing.

North African countries are credited with the creation of the tajine, a funnel shaped, clay or earthen vessel.  Morocco is credited with the creation of tajine, a fantastic dish typically made from lamb, vegetables and served with cous-cous — cooked in a tajine, naturally!

The most noticeable trait of a tajine is the funnel shaped lid.  This cone is ideal for steam.  The moisture of the food travels up through the funnel and the condensation drops back into the food boosting it with flavor.  Since water is such a precious commodity in dry areas, how clever of desert nomads to create such a cooking vessel!

HSN's gorgeous ceramic tajine

Cooking with a tajine has grown in popularity recently for several reasons.  Health advocates enjoy tajines because they require little or no added fat.  Most tajine recipes call for very little oil added and some none at all.  There is also little need for salt.  Fresh herbs and ground spices are used, which infuse dishes with incredible flavors.  Slow food enthusiasts enjoy tajines because they go into an oven to slowly cook for hours.  Those who enjoy entertaining delight in bringing such a unique dish to the table.  Personally, I love bringing a tajine to a table surrounded with hungry friends, and lifting the lid for a dramatic presentation.  I always get ooh’s and ahh’s!

I am honored to be presenting an exclusive ceramic tajine tonight on HSN.  This beautiful dish comes with a special chicken recipe which I happily share with you here:

Chicken Apple & Raisin Tajine

4 pounds of chicken (cut into pieces)
1 large red onion, rough chop
1 cup raisins
4 cloves of garlic, rough chop
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, rough chop
12 oz chicken stock
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground tumeric
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tablespoons preserved lemon juice
8 saffron threads
3 tablespoons olive oil (for browning)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Saute chicken in a saute pan with olive oil until browned.  Remove chicken and place in the bottom of the tajine.  Saute onion, garlic, ginger and cinnamon and add to chicken.

Add preserved lemon juice, saffron, chicken stock, raisins and apples to the tajine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cover with lid and place in oven.  Cook until chicken is cooked through, approximately 75 minutes.

Serve with cous-cous and garnish with chopped parsley and slivered almonds.

Fry Me to the Moon: Fun with the Waring Pro Deep Fryer

Fry Me to the Moon: Fun with the Waring Pro Deep Fryer

Everyone fries food.  EVERYONE.

I have been saying this every day as I stand over my deep fryer.  Frying is one of the world’s oldest and most widely used cooking methods.  It doesn’t matter if you’re enjoying Cha Gio (Vietnamese Spring Rolls) or Churros (Mexican Donuts) or Argentina Empanadas or Jamaican Beef Patties — everyone fries their food!

On Tuesday, I will be showing the Waring Pro Deep Fryer on HSN.  This amazing fryer is only available through HSN and it’s a serious piece of machinery!  Prior to going on-air, I practice, practice, practice.  I get to know my product inside and out, come up with new ideas and recipes, then find new ways to inspire my love for cooking.  Lucky for me, I have plenty of friends who enjoy the end results!

I made a huge batch of tempura for my friend Michelle.  Tempura is a light and fluffy batter from Japan used to deep fry vegetables and seafood.  We made tempura shrimp, green beans, broccoli, onions and sweet potatoes.  Michelle whipped up a special mixture of crab rangoon (with freshly grated ginger, green onions, crab meat and cream cheese) and we savored those as well!

On Saturday, Ron came over and I fried up cha gio, delicate and crispy Vietnamese spring rolls.  The filling is extremely savory, made from shrimp (or crab meat) ground pork, mushrooms, carrots and onions.  The finished spring rolls are served wrapped in crisp, cold, lettuce cups stuffed with cucumbers, carrots, radishes and fresh herbs.  I made a special dipping sauce made from lime juice and fish sauce and we enjoyed a scrumptious dinner!

Early this morning (and I do mean EARLY) a friend who shall go un-named was treated to a serving of Scotch Eggs. This “Braveheart Breakfast” is a hard-boiled egg surrounded by a ground breakfast sausage.  To say that it goes great with a mug of beer is an understatement.  There’s nothing like protein after a night out on the town!

Today, I’m making a fantastic Mediterranean inspired falafel salad (fried chickpea patties) on a bed of greens and drizzled with a tangy tahini dressing.  If I feel so inclined, I may actually make my personal favorite: Kluay Kaek (Thai fried bananas).  Kluay Kaek are banana slices dipped in coconut batter then fried.  Is there anything better than that?

When done correctly, fried food should not be greasy or heavy.  In fact, at the right temperature and in the correct amount of time, food submerged in hot oil will repel grease while all the moisture in the food comes out.  This is the simple rule of frying: mind your time and temperature.  Do that and you’ll know exactly why everyone enjoys moist, juicy, crispy and delicious fried food.

If frying is not performed correctly, you get poorly prepared food, the stuff that is really bad for us.  If the oil is too hot, the food can be overcooked or raw in the middle, and if the oil is too cold, the food will be greasy (and you can count on a stomach ache later!)

I think it’s unfortunate that frying gets such a bad wrap — it’s not the cooking method, it’s how we enjoy the food.  If you have something fried, balance it with vegetables and healthy proteins, and naturally, watch your portioning.

Being a foodie means being able to enjoy all methods of cooking… and lucky for me, I am surrounded by people who know exactly how to do that.