Brûléed Brown Sugar Oatmeal

Bruleed Brown Sugar Oatmeal
Bruleed Brown Sugar Oatmeal
Bruleed Brown Sugar Oatmeal
Bruleed Brown Sugar Oatmeal
Bruleed Brown Sugar Oatmeal
Bruleed Brown Sugar Oatmeal
Bruleed Brown Sugar Oatmeal

Helluuur! How's it going??? Since we last spoke, I feel like I've racked up a whole bunch of young person culture points. 2 weekends ago I flew back home to Cleveland to watch Hamilton. I was never a huge Hamilton fan before... now. My brother on the other hand is a HUGE fan. Like knows all the lyrics to every single song and all the historical references type of mega fan. So his enthusiasm for the musical definitely rubbed off on me in the days leading up to the big show! It was obviously amazing. I loved every single minute of it. I can listen to Helpless over and over and over again. Have you listened to the Ashanti and JaRule version from the Hamilton Mixtape?! SO GOOD. Now that I've seen it, all the songs makes so much more sense lol and now I find myself listening to it while I'm working late on deadlines at work. So enjoyable! 

I also watched Crazy Rich Asians! OMG AMAZING. It's great if you love a good romantic comedy and value Asian representation in Hollywood. Reuben and I watched it at an asian theater full of other asian people. There were a bunch of asian beauty pageant queens and businessmen at our showing for some reason. It was the most magical thing! The overall experience, not the queens and businessmen. The energy in the theater was so crazy. You could feel how excited and happy everyone was to finally see a film full of people who looked like them that weren't material artists. I laughed a lot, cried a ton, and smiled practically the whole time. I think I'm going to see it again this week! I can't wait! Please go see it if you've haven't yet!

Back on the couch front, Reuben and I are watching Freaks and Geeks. It's so painfully embarrassing, I love it. So pretty much I've been watching a lot of things that make me feel current and finally up to date with pop culture references. A lot of times, I feel like a grandma because I don't watch the Bachelor, see all the popular Broadway musicals (they're so expensive in SF!), or have a twitter. 99.9% of the time I'm okay with feeling like a grandma because that means I get to go to bed early, drink tea, and eat oatmeal. ALL things that I love deeply.

I had one of the best oatmeals of my life when I was in Cincinnati last summer at Cheapside Cafe. It was a Creme Brulee Oatmeal. Ahhhh, it was so simple and decadent. I remember thinking to myself that this is how oatmeal should always be eaten. In order to keep this breakfast still on the healthyish side, I'm voiding making an actual custard for the creme brulee. To compensate for the lack of decadent custard, I slowly simmered the oats in water and milk until they broke down into a super creamy texture. I finished off the oatmeal with a splash of heavy cream and a brown sugar topping for that extra treat-cho-self touch. I highly recommend you brulee your oatmeal on a daily basis. It makes Tuesdays feel A LOT less like a Tuesday.


Brûléed Brown Sugar Oatmeal

serves 4

materials:

1 cup rolled oats
3 cups water
1 cup milk
2 tbsp brown sugar + more for topping
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup heavy cream
seasonal fruit for topping

steps:

1. Bring water and milk to a gentle boil in a medium pot. Stir in oats and reduce the heat so that the oats are simmering. Cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the oatmeal is thick and creamy.

2. Add salt and brown sugar, stir and cook for another minute. Turn off the heat and stir in heavy cream. Allow the oatmeal to cool for 5 minutes.

3. Place oatmeal into a heat proof bowl of ramekin. Sprinkle the top with 1-2 tsp of brown sugar. Use a kitchen torch to carefully brulee the brown sugar. 

4. Top with your favorite seasonal fruit or eat plain!

Herby Dutch Baby

Herby Dutch Baby
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Herby Dutch Baby
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Herby Dutch Baby
Herby Dutch Baby
Herby Dutch Baby

Woah. Hey, March! Is it officially spring time yet??? I'm not really sure what the weather is looking like across America, but I'm definitely still seeing snow on people's insta stories. So I'm assuming the answer is: almost. There are a few trees around us with little pink and white buds starting to show and it makes me so happy. I love spring time so much! Everything is crisp and refreshing. The farmer's market is full of gorgeous spring produce. And I get a huge urge to purge and cleanse my life and apartment of all things unnecessary. Hello, spring cleaning!

(Kristina stares at the mountain of laundry that needs to get put away in her already bursting closet) Yep, so ready to clear things out.

My fridge is near the top of the list of areas that need some cleansing. There are still a few science experiments hiding back there. Eek! If you're like me, you are probably guilty of wasting a bit of food at the end of the week. I always feel so bad having to trash once beautiful vegetables only because I was irresponsible and didn't manage to cook them in time. But it's been a goal of mine to get better at planning our meal and eliminate as much food waste as possible! I'm working on painting a really cute meal planning sheet. Once that's ready I'll share it with you all! Hopefully it'll make your weekly meal planning 100 times easier and more fun to figure out! 

One of the items that I almost always have in my fridge at the end of the week is a half wilted and slightly yellow bunch of parsley. Why do they sell such big bundles??! I like parsley. I don't love it as much as some people out there. So I buy it for very selective reasons. Like adding to a rice pilaf, topping my mac and cheese, mixing into meatballs, or blending it into some homemade yogurt ranch dressing. I'm never making all these things in the same week. That week of meals does sound great though. So I typically have a half bunch laying around until it's gross and I'm forced to throw it away. 

Not anymore! I decided to give my wilted parsley a second life in the form of a Herby Dutch Baby! Have you had a dutch baby before?  They are essentially really big, puffy, crispy, eggy, and custardy pancakes made in a skillet. It is a super easy and quick breakfast, plus it will make you look extra fancy because it always comes out looking impressive. What you do is blend up the chopped up parsley in with the batter to get a super fragrant and fresh tasting pancake. It also gives it a really fun and beautiful light green color. Once you have your dutch baby all crispy and puffy, you can really top it with anything your heart desires. Cheese, bacon, avocado, smoked salmon, so many options! I found that the parsley infused dutch baby was insanely delicious with generous swoop of plain greek yogurt, a fried egg, Israeli salad, and a good sprinkle of sumac. Its a really lovely and springy breakfast to kick off a morning of some spring cleaning! Or like any morning really!


Herby Dutch Baby

serves 4

materials:

3 large eggs, room temperature *
3/4 cup milk, room temperature **
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter + 1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
half a bunch of chopped parsley (or any leafy herbs you have)

notes:

* If I don't have time or forgot to leave my eggs out at room temperature, I just run them under some warm water and let them sit in the warm water for about 5 minutes.

** I just microwave the milk for 45 seconds to save some time. 

steps:

1. Place a cast iron skillet in your oven and heat to 450 degrees.

2. Blend the eggs (either in a blender or immersion blender) for 1 minute until really frothy. While blending, slowly pour in the milk and 2 tbsp melted butter. Blender for another 30 seconds. Add flour, cornstarch, salt, pepper, and parsley into the blender and blender for another 1 minute until everything is combined. The mixture should be lightly green.

3. Safely remove the skillet from the oven and add in 1 tbsp of butter. It will melt fast. Swirl the butter around so the skillet is evenly coated. Immediately pour in the batter and place in the oven.

4. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. The dutch baby should be golden brown and puffy. Remove from the oven and allow to slightly cool. It will deflate.

5. Top with your favorite savory toppings! I topped mine with a fried egg, greek yogurt, and Israeli salad.

 

adapted from the Bon Appetite Savory Dutch Baby Recipe

Grandpa's Scrambled Eggs

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Do you remember the first thing you learned how to cook? I have a super hazy and possibly slightly reconstructed memory of my grandpa teaching me how to whisk eggs with chopsticks when I was a little. Scrambled eggs were the first thing I ever learned how to cook. Every single time I make them I remember him telling me that a good whisk is all in the wrist and that if you move it just so, you won't make a huge mess. It makes me smile every single time I whip up these eggs for breakfast. You probably already know how to make scrambled eggs. Who knows?! Maybe you don't. But here is a recipe, and I really just wanted an excuse to tell you about the person who instilled in me my love of food.

I'm the most sentimental person you will ever meet and the holidays make me extra sentimental and sappy. This post might be an epic ramble as I spiral into an emotional tailspin. You've been warned. Around this time of year my homesickness reaches an all time high and I start to tear up at restaurants if I see a big Asian family out eating dinner together. I'm instantly balling if there are grandparents surrounded by little grand-babies. Gah, it gets me. I miss my family all the time. I grew up in a pretty close knit family and I'm the only one not in Ohio. My entire mom's side of the family (parents, brother, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandma, errbody) lives in the Cleveland area, with the exception of an aunt who lives in Columbus. Family dim sum, lunches, and dinners were constantly happening. We were always together and moved around in a pack. For the first decade of my life, I grew up seeing everyone almost daily at my family's restaurant. At the time, I definitely did not appreciate it, but now as a somewhat-adult, I'm really thankful to have grown up in a restaurant surrounded by family.

Cooking and eating food that reminds me of them makes me feel connected to them somehow. When I whisk eggs I think of my grandpa. When I chop vegetables I hear my mom telling me to tuck my fingers in so I don't lose a finger. When I have chocolate ice cream I think of my other grandpa and how he kicked my ass at climbing a giant hill (it was really a tall city park) in Hong Kong, and once I finally met up with him at the top he was peacefully enjoying a scoop of chocolate ice cream. Food is so powerful that way. Every recipe comes with a narrative or a memory. My absolute favorite stories are the ones my mom would tell me of her growing up or of my grandpa when he was little. Like the tasty after school snacks her grandma would make her. Or how my grandpa would sell peanuts when he was a little boy to make money and that's why he is so good at math. I could listen to these stories all day!

My Grandpa, or my Goong Goong as I would call him, was pretty awesome. He was an only child supporting his single mom, who created quite a life for himself and a big family of his own. He was a teacher and calligrapher back in Hong Kong, but he decided to move to America for a better life for his family. He and my grandma, his mom, my mom, and her 4 siblings all flew over from Hong Kong and landed in Chicago, where they lived for a year before settling down in Cleveland. Like so many immigrants, he started working in restaurants. While he learned how to cook he also learned all the intricacies of running his own business. Eventually he opened up his own restaurant, and continued to open and operate them until he retired. He worked so hard and was such a great cook! It makes my eyes all teary when I think about how much he accomplished and what a great life he gave my family. Gosh.

He wanted me to study something related to computers when I went to college. I probably should have listened to him, but I wanted to do something more creative. Architecture happened. Now food has my focus, but I think he left such an amazing framework for me to do something with food. My entire life, he was always sharing food with me, whether it was plates of food or recipes. I would sit next to him at dim sum and he would whisper in my ear how the different dumplings were made. I was young and dumb and didn't retain that information, but I remember him telling me! I would giggle and then get distracted by a new dumpling coming to the table. We would share a crispy taro dumpling (our favorite) and I would ramble on about something silly like Pokemon or try to annoy my brother. That's normally how dim sum went.

He passed away 8 years ago around Christmas. I remember being in the hospital room with my entire family, we move around in a pack remember, and as my grandpa passed away I had never experienced sadness like that before. But at the same time I don't think I have ever experienced my family love each other that way. I'll never forget how that felt. Just like how I will never forget my grandpa's giant smile, the way he sang my Chinese name, and the way he taught me how to whisk my eggs and appreciate food. I miss him so much.

In a way I think my grandpa, and the rest of my family, is the reason why I cook, why I write, and why I share. I want to share the food of my family. I want to attempt to recreate the centuries old recipes my grandma makes from memory (it's really hard). But I also want to share my own personal experiences with food and create an archive of sorts for my future grandbabies to read about 50 years from now. Gaaaaaaah! Tailspinning... (compose yourself, you're almost done!) Okay. Anyway, all I wanted to say is that my hope for this blog is to create an archive and celebrate the joy and the stories behind food!

Sorry if this got really sad, but it cheered up a little didn't it?? If you have any stories you'd like to share I would LOVE to hear them! You can post them in the comments below. I hope you have a lovely beginning of December!


Grandpa's Scrambled Eggs

Materials:

2 eggs

1 tbsp milk

1 tsp olive oil

salt+pepper

Steps:

1. Crack eggs into a small bowl, sprinkle some salt and pepper, and add milk. Give it a quick whisk.

2. Heat a skillet over low heat. Add oil and egg mixture to the pan while it is only slightly warm. Continue to slowly whisk or scrape the eggs as they gradually cook and set up. o

3. Enjoy as is or on some buttered toast with hot sauce and green onions!
 


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wee dumpling with grandpa