Who's That Girl

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WHO'S THAT GIRL: A higher education obsessed foodie who is documenting her life in the kitchen. I love to cook delicious, gourmet-style foods for those I love and always welcome a challenge in the kitchen. With that challenge comes an impromptu nature. I tend to avoid following recipes to the exact, so you are not likely to find very many posted here. Being that I am a Libra and am learning to be free in the kitchen, the story always goes, "A pinch of this and a smattering of that!" Thank you for visiting -- and happy reading!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Blessed Savory Pie

Ah, the joys of cooking a chicken pot pie.

I only seem to cook these when I am feeling lonesome and wanting for home.

Indeed, isn't the chicken pot pie one of the ultimate types of comfort food?

In a sense, it is a plush sofa, personified.

This time, I used chicken leftover for a rosemary-rubbed chicken roast I made. To it, I added an ample sampling of frozen peas and carrots. I also used a chicken soup base, but ended up adding a tad bit too much water. Though the texture of the filling was thin, not hearty as a pot pie should be, the flavor was right on.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Putting Rice to Bed -- A Bed of Rice in a Seaweed Wrap

This comes to no surprise as we all know that I love -- absolutely love -- rice, rice and more rice.

That, on top -- literally -- of seaweed and you know I've lost all sense of reasoning and have found myself trapped in the allure gaze of a bed of naked rice, staring back at me from a bowl with nothing else included. 

On this particular night, I wanted something simple, easy and light.

I set a container of jasmine rice to cook with a smattering of rice vinegar and salt.

The salt addition, no matter how light, turned out to be a mistake. The rice cooker took about 20 minutes to make one cook.

Meanwhile, I set out a sheet of nori.

Really, I should have only used half of one sheet. The full sheet turned out not only to be too much, but it was a pain to try and fold it.

My mistake.

Another error: Adding the salt to the rice as it was cooking.

The Noritamago Furikake Rice Seasoning turned out have enough salt to pickle a jar of cucumbers. Unnecessary for this dish. Ah, well. Informed for next time.

I added a dash of ponzu before folding the nori over the rice. It required some sort of protein. Barbecue pork or raw salmon would have been wonderful. But, no matter, it was a nice, quick and easy meal -- yes, this was enough for a meal!

So, this is something like onigiri, though it is more like samgak kimbap, a type of Korean appetizer or snack. Perhaps a more glutenous rice would have been more appropriate than the jasmine rice. This just means that I will be experimenting at full hilt once I am able to try this out again.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Product Review: Noritamago Furikake Rice Seasoning

I learned about rice seasoning at a local grocery store that specializes in Asian foods from around the world, including a whole host of other foods outside of the United States.

I was browsing the aisles, as I a prone to, when I came upon a nice selection of the seasonings. I had never heard of such a thing, so I opted to make a purchase to try at home. I went with the Noritamago Furikake rice seasoning, chiefly because it contains piece of shaved seaweed and -- *squeals* -- eggs! Egg yolk to be specific.

I made the purchase about eight months ago, finishing it off tonight. It is customary to use the rice seasoning on leftover rice. Bah! I rarely have leftover rice at home. I typically used it when I while making sushi maki. I found that it served as am amazing boost of flavor and added a subtle crunch.

The Noritamago Furikake Rice Seasoning is quite versatile and delicious. It contains sesame seeds, yolk, bonito and seaweed. FYI: It tastes amazing with panko on rice.

And nerd alert: It has such the ergonomic design. You likely can't tell from the image, but the producer had both our taste buds and our tactile senses in mind. The lid is durable and flexible, but has somewhat of a soft feel to the touch. And the size is just perfect, giving the feel that it was made for the cusp of your hand. Am I being overly emotional?

But, beware -- there is an ample amount of salt, so go light on the salt when cooking dishes that call for rice seasoning. That's the one thing I do not like about the product.

Other than that, I love this blend. In addition to rice, I've tried it on eggs. Yum! Now I have to make a trip to the grocery store to make another purchase.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ponzu-Dripped Shrimp Meets Mushroom-Onion Orzo

The moment of discovery is a beautiful thing. You've likely been toiling away for an outrageous amount of time: Researching, experimenting, tweaking, cursing to the ceiling, taking yet another redo, cowering in the corner in tears while your dog stands nearby prepped to dial 9-1-1 on your cell phone.

Then, finally, it all comes together in such a wonderful way that you become entranced. You see your named called at the Golden Foodie Awards ceremony. And at that moment, cowering in the corner of your kitchen, you begin practicing your thank you speech.

OK -- no. Kitchen discoveries are probably rarely like that at all. If ever. Silly, descriptive, imaginative me.

But this does mark a moment of discovery.

The ingredients were ripe:

1. I was tired from a wonderful day of yard work and pool time.
2. I had to prepare dinner in short order.
3. I had to use much of what was on hand.
4. That orzo, sitting in a dim corner of the pantry, felt neglected. It had threatened to take me to divorce court on multiple occasions.Thus, I had to figure out a way to get it into a dish.
5. I had a craving for onions. Mad craving.

The process was simple. I sauteed the onions in olive oil until they were soft and beginning to brown. Then, I added chopped baby bellas -- no need to add additional oil. As the mushrooms began to cook through, I crushed in a few cloves of garlic.

Meanwhile, I prepped the shrimp. Once cleaned, I put them in a bowl with an ample squirt of lemon juice and a little bit of ponzu, which is one of my favorite condiments. I learned about ponzu at a fast food sushi joint in town. I find that it is an excellent seasoning addition for meats and vegetables. I'm still experimenting with it and found it worked perfectly with this dish.

Letting the shrimp sit, I finished off the onion, mushroom and garlic sautee. I had already begun boiling ponzu. After draining it, I set to work on the shrimp.

The secret is adding lots of dried parsley. I mean lots! If you are a lover of parsley, go wild. Add as much as you like. The flavor, along with the lemon and ponzu, is just amazing.

...ahhh...just amazing.

As the shrimp sauteed, I added a little bit of butter -- about half a tablespoon -- along with the dried parsley. Once the shrimp was cooked through, I added the onions and mushroom with a dash of ponzu. The trick is to add a little bit of ponzu at a time a couple of times during cooking. At this point, I added the orzo and, for extra flavor, a bit of garlic salt and onion powder.

That's it! A full dinner in a bowl. Just lovely. The flavor is light, but full. There is so much going on with this experimental dish, and I imagine you can do the same with beef, pork, chicken or a whole range of vegetables (peppers, corn and maybe even eggplant). It's quite different, and somewhat unusual, but I imagine I will be making this time and time again. Good stuff.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

My First Homemade Bun Thit Nuong

The first time in life that I had a chance to eat bun thit nuong was years ago at Pho 88. I've been eating at the restaurant since my undergraduate years, though the restaurant is at a different location in town and a different name.

The restaurant owner, even after having not seen me in about four years, remembered me the instant I walked through the door. And she remembered my name. And what I always ordered.

After tons of hugs, and a bit of surprised, she seated me and asked, "You want your sesame chicken?" Taken aback, I told her I wanted to check out her menu. Maybe try something new all these years.

I opted for #22 -- bun.

What she served was decadent. It was a heaping mass of lettuce, cilantro, carrots, cucumber, scallions and grilled pork served with a sliced egg roll atop a bed of chilled vermicelli. She also provided fish sauce and provided a side of the house soup, which was the lightest and most flavorful broth I had ever recalled tasting.

I loved the dish immediately, to the point that when I now visit she no longer asks about the sesame chicken, but knows that I now prefer bun.

I have had bun at numerous other restaurants across the nation and find that it remains one of my absolute favorite dishes. I love the crispness of the fresh vegetables, which mixes well with the grilled semi-sweet and somewhat charred pork. Along with the vermicelli, the flavor burst is lovely and luscious.

This is, strangely, the first time I tried it at home. No recipe required. I simply butterflied a pork loin and used a mallet to flatten the meat. I then marinated the pork loin for several hours in lemon juice along with Ponzu (one of my new favorite condiments). Though Ponzu is citrus-flavored, I wanted to tenderize the meat a bit more.

To prepare this dish was easy. I cooked the noodles first and drained them before allowing them to cool. I pan seared the meat using a wok, adding a bit of the reserved juice at the very end of cooking. I had already sliced up the vegetables and herbs: Carrots, cucumber, scallions, mint and cilantro. With a dash of Sriracha sauce, the hard part was arranging the dish so that it was pretty for the picture.

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