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Archive for March 2008

Curry Tofu Noodle Stir-Fry

March 31, 2008 | Chuck
Curry Tofu Noodle Stir-Fry

After making fried eggs and shrimp, I needed to do something with the extra tomatoes and red onion. I looked in the fridge and saw some tofu and fresh egg noodles that we often pick up at the local Asian supermarket. With a few other ingredients, I whipped up this super easy curry tofu noodle stir-fry.

We enjoyed the dish so much, I made it again a few days later. The first time, I added a little too much hot curry powder for Hungry Bear's taste. My heat tolerance is off the charts, so it was mild for me. The next time I made it, I threw in a little coconut cream to soothe the heat and sweet petite peas for some color.

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Light Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot cake again? I know, I know, how much carrot cake can someone eat? Well, I've eaten entirely too much of it in the last two weeks. After Hungry Bear made her fantastic carrot cake, I wanted to make a light version while her normal, full-fat version was still fresh on our minds.

The light carrot cake recipe was adapted from Cook's Illustrated (CI). I used all the CI fat reducing steps...

  • Reduced the amount of oil from 1 1/2 cups to 1/2 cup
  • Reduced the number of eggs from 4 to 3
  • Used Philadelphia Neufchatel reduced-fat cream cheese
  • Lowered the sugar quantity in the frosting

Then, I kept the majority of the normal cake's other ingredients to keep the flavors similar, which means pineapples and coconut flakes were included.

Cook's Illustrated's light cream cheese frosting recipe uses 12 oz of reduced fat cream cheese and no butter. I didn't like the idea of buying two 8 oz boxes of low fat cream cheese and not use 4 oz. So, I modified the recipe to use 8 oz of cheese and added a little butter.

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Vietnamese Roasted Chicken (Ga Ro Ti)

March 24, 2008 | Chuck
Vietnamese Roasted Chicken (Ga Ro Ti)

Growing up in Allentown, PA, my family would take trips down to Washington, DC to visit my great aunt and uncle. As an active kid, I always dreaded going down to DC because I had to spend most of the time cooped up inside my great aunt and uncle's apartment. The highlights of the trips were the amazing home cooked Vietnamese meals prepared by my great aunt. Her roasted chicken (ga ro ti) and sticky rice were my favorite dishes.

It's been over two decades since I had ga ro ti. I never see it at restaurants (at least in San Francisco), as most Viet places serve grilled chicken (ga nuong) with five spice. So last week, I decided to make Vietnamese roasted chicken. I called up my parents to get advice. Unfortunately, neither of my parents make the dish and my great aunt passed away several years ago. My dad said, "marinate it in soy, fish sauce, garlic and a little sugar"...like every other Viet dish, not much help there. I was on my own with this one.

I remember my great aunt pan fried her chicken low and slow. I believe this "roasting" method was used because traditional ovens weren't available in Vietnam back in the day, unless you were wealthy. My great aunt's chicken had an extra crispy skin and the meat was shreddable by hand, almost like a confit. To get this texture, the chicken needs to be cooked longer than normal.

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Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I love carrot cake. Of all the non-chocolate cakes, it's probably my favorite one. When Hungry Bear gave me the choice between carrot cake and chocolate turtle cake, I still chose the carrot cake. I wanted to keep it uncomplicated this past Sunday night, and what's better than a simple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting?

Hungry Bear used a recipe from an old roommate, Roz. You know, the kind of recipe that's written on an index card and handed down. The cake contains pineapples and coconut flakes, which we both enjoy in our carrot cake. Hungry Bear mentioned Cook's Illustrated (CI) pooh poohed the use of canned crushed pineapples, toasted coconut and wheat germ in The New Best Recipes. In fact, they were "unanimously voted out", but CI approved raisins and nuts as options... um, no thanks. I love Cook's Illustrated, but sometimes their decisions seem completely arbitrary. With all due respect to CI, Hungry Bear and I unanimously voted pineapples and coconut flakes back in!

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Fried Eggs and Shrimp

Sometimes the simplest food is the best food. It doesn't get any easier than fried eggs and shrimp (trung chien tom). Throughout my childhood, my mom made this dish, serving it with steamed rice. It was so simple, yet so satisfying.

This past Sunday night, I made fried eggs and shrimp for the SNDsters and Hungry Bear baked a carrot cake. We'll share the carrot cake recipe next time. In my family, we served trung chien tom on a bed of greens and tomatoes. Then we dunked it all in Vietnamese dipping sauce (nuoc cham) and ate it with jasmine rice. I'm not sure how normal it is to eat it this way, but it's ingrained in me and I'm sticking with it. Does anyone else eat it like this?

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