无面不欢 (wu mian bu huan) is a saying that can be loosely translated to no satisfaction without noodles. That’s pretty much me!!! The first time I had knife-cut noodles was in China; I was young, so my memory is spotty at best, but the texture and feel of these noodles stayed stubbornly in my mind. When I came back to the states, I always kept an eye out for knife-cut noodles. Luckily for me, we found a restaurant that serves these stir-fried, and it’s been my go-to place for years! Of course, when I moved away from home, I have to renew my search for these noodles, so I just decided to make them at home. You can find the recipe on Food52 here.
Knife cut noodles (刀削面 dao xiao mian) are legendary in China, a specialty of the Shanxi province. They are known as knife-shaved, knife-cut, pared noodles, or even peel noodles. In Chinese, they’re刀削面 (dao xiao mian.) The method of making them is an art form that takes years of practice.
Hello, spring. I’m quite disappointed in you. The second day, and we have snow in Boston again? You know how you can make it up to me? Give me some sun and warm weather :). Thanks!
If you’ve been to Boston before, then you may know about the South End. Sowa Sunday farmer’s market + food truck + vintage mart + arts/crafts fair? I could go on and on about this neighborhood. It’s filled with wonderful restaurants, dog parks, art galleries, and serious gems of boutiques. You could forgo Newbury st and just stroll along Washington St, Harrison Ave, and Tremont St. You can find superb coffee, light and fluffy doughnuts, delightful pastries, clothes, furniture, pet food, groceries – ah! the list goes on. I take my dog Annie to the dog park there almost every day. You know what’s even better? Many of the stores and restaurants allow dogs. There are outdoor patios, and this makes me look even more forward to good weather, when I don’t have to leave Annie at home to get a meal. Last week I picked up a bag of Sfoglini beet fusilli from Olives and Grace. Have you been in this store? You can find cute recorders, craft sriracha, cute baby clothes, cards – in a nutshell, if you’re looking for a gift from artisan makers, you can definitely find it at Olives and Grace. Plus, Sofi is so warm and nice you feel compelled to tell her all about yourself. I love browsing through that place. There’s nothing better than a warm environment in a beautiful shop, is there?
First things first – le jus d’orange was featured on Zeit magazin! You can read about it (in German) here.
In Boston, St. Patrick’s Day is a big holiday. At least, the parade is a big deal. Snow, rain, a mix of both type of precipitation – nothing stops the parade and the onset of green-clad onlookers. I decided to stay in and instead celebrate by making a batch of matcha mint panna cotta. I took everything I had that was green and made sense together (so for example, not matcha and celery) and made it into a creamy pudding. The original Italian version uses egg whites and involves baking, but it’s supposed to be complicated and delicate. Instead, I took inspiration from Beth at Local Milk and Cynthia at Two Red Bowls and adapted the cream and gelatin version of panna cotta. When I read through it, I was amazed by its simplicity. A large component of the flavor seems to come from the infusing step. I brewed in matcha and fresh mint leaves and let that steep. I then topped it off with sifted matcha powder, some honey, and crushed pistachios. I thought the pistachios added a nice balance to the soft pudding.
Right after I ladled the cream mixture into ramekins to set, I met up with Meg from Bread + Barrow (lovely, gorgeous blog), and we had a great time talking about food blogging, our life stories, while munching on croissants and drinking hot coffee. We even bought the same cookbook after having a wonderfully philosophical conversation with Abby from Farm & Fable about food blogs and cookbooks. I admit I was nervous at first – I mean, have you seen her blog? Her writing, her authentic recipes, her gorgeous photos… I couldn’t help but feel intimidated. It was a cold rainy morning, with gray snow mounds still crowding the sidewalk. I felt increasingly guilty and anxious for making her trek all the way to the South End, where street parking is no joke. When she walked in the door, all my anxiety disappeared – simply washed away at the first smile. As cheesy as this may sound, it was like I was talking to a close friend already. And that’s the beauty of blogging – we follow our favorite bloggers and we are allowed these vignettes of their lives, glimpses into the person. We learn about their lifestyle and their preferences in their recipes and blog posts. Yes, these posts are public for anyone and everyone to view, but I still feel like I’m privileged to be able to get to know these bloggers, albeit virtually. Meeting up with Meg really solidified why I keep blogging. I’m constantly inspired by my readers and my fellow blogger friends. The food community is a warm embrace, and I feel lucky to be a part of it.
If you’re racking your brain thinking about something sweet to finish off a dinner party, stop. You’ve found it here: coconut cream grapefruit tartlets with black sesame crust. It’s a twist on the classic coconut cream pie, in a good way, I think. I’ve got the recipe for this on the wonderful Common Table, Co.
First wedding of the season starts this weekend (to clarify, I am a wedding photographer). I’m so excited. So pumped. I admit to feeling a bit of cabin fever since the holidays. We’ve done numerous engagement shoots and just meeting up with clients, but it’s not the same as diving head-first into a wedding. They can be stressful, time-constrained, and crazy all at once, but that is honestly why we love photographing them. Plus, witnessing two people in love vowing to spend the rest of their lives together and celebrating with their friends and family is rewarding beyond measure. We can document that story, because it’s worth documenting. Can you tell I’m excited?
This is embarrassing: I’ve had this post in the queue since November. ?!?! I almost feel silly putting this post up after so long, but this is actually one of my favorite ways to eat egg or avocado toast. Nothing delights me more than a simple slightly-runny egg with super crispy edges. Except the egg on avocado toast, which we’ve all established is the best combination ever. Lindsey blew my mind away with her miso-tahini avocado toast. I’ve been a fan of Molly’s amazing hole-in-the-middle toasts, since like, forever. And Stephanie did something everyone secretly loves and picks out of salads – the crispy fried cheesy eggs! Have I convinced you that I love eggs for breakfast? Let’s add another one – balsamic fried eggs.
Before I left the nest (aka, California), I always had breakfast. Every morning before school, I would be presented with a hearty breakfast, which varied from bao zi, zhong zi, eggs, pastries – whatever was on hand -and always included warm milk. Little birds need the calcium to get tall, right? *chuckle (side note- I still fondly remember all the random myths we were told when we grew up – too much soy sauce would make you too tan, eating seeds will cause a tree to grow inside you – did anyone else experience these parenting techniques as a child? I think we always knew what nonsense they were, but it was amusing nonetheless.) It was usually my mother who happily woke up before sunrise to prepare these for us. However, sometimes, my dad would let my mom sleep, and he would prepare noodles. Yes, noodles for breakfast. And it was awesome. He would always top it off with a fried egg, with balsamic vinegar drizzled around the edges. This made the edges super crispy. Amazingly crispy, with the tang of balsamic vinegar. My dad, he liked to experiment, and he did it well.
葱油拌面 (Cong You Ban Mian) is a classic, Shanghai comfort food. The signature taste comes from frying scallions until they are unrecognizable brown bits and pouring it over drained noodles. I gave it a twist: instead of frying it in vegetable oil, I fried it in duck fat, used ramen noodles, and topped it with medium-rare duck breast with crispy skin. That’s my kind of meal
Duck fat makes everything better. It just does. Similarly to how bacon grease makes everything taste better. However, duck is a special meat for me. It’s the fancy meat that I will enjoy, anywhere. I’ve gone to get whole duck meals when I spent a summer in Shanghai, probably once a week. They cook the duck for you and you eat it in mushu pancakes, then they serve a wonderful broth made from the duck bones afterwards. I salivate while I anticipate my father-in-law making his famous Nan Jing Salt Water Duck (yes, I WILL be doing a post on this later). I drag my parents to my favorite restaurant in the bay area for their roasted half-duck buns. I make an effort to reserve, a month prior, the famed whole rotisserie duck at Momofuku Ssam (which is amazing). I of course ate duck as my main entree during my first night in Paris. When it’s restaurant week, I always look for the restaurant that serves duck as part of that menu. I’ve had duck blood soup (which sounds horrible and disgusting, but is actually quite delicious). Do I have to go on?
Are you a noodle person? Because I am. And because I am, I’m going to share some AWESOME noodle recipes:
I’m not great at cake decorating, so I have to rely on things like a rough frosting, glazing to give it an impressive cap, and shaping candied orange peels into roses in lieu of fancy frosted roses. It’s my goal to learn how to properly frost, with piping and using different tips to create flowers… but for now, I will DIY my way to a pretty cake. Not bad, right? I did the whole vertical cake thing again. I did say in my previous post that I had a whole series of vertical cakes planned for you. So here’s one more. It’s a twist on the classic Japanese shortcake, which is made up of light sponge cake, whipped cream, and fresh strawberries. It’s the tail end of winter, so strawberries aren’t exactly in season here on the East coast. There were strawberries available, but I decided to go with something in season. Oranges. I love the brightness and positive energy citruses bring to a cold and dreary winter. Not only is it loaded with vitamin C, the taste is unbeatable! I made a plain sponge cake, spread copious amounts of orange zest whipped cream, and rolled it all up.
If you follow me on Instagram and on Facebook, you’ll know that it was my husband’s birthday yesterday! One of his favorite cakes is the Japanese shortcake, and he loved my twist on it. We had a wonderful weekend dining at Myers and Chang, visiting friends with puppies, and cooking steak/salmon (steak for him, salmon for me). I don’t talk about him in every post, but his presence is usually here in some way. Ever wonder how I take photos of myself without clutching a remote? Alex lets me drag him away from his studies to get a shot with my hands in action, or with me presenting a food. I’m too lazy to set up the tripod, the trigger, or put it on timer, and focus to the exact spot… so Alex is the magician behind almost all the shots with me in it. He has been instrumental in helping me shape my blog, not just with photography. He’s the one encouraging me to put myself out there, to trust my writing, and to have confidence in my work. I love him dearly and I definitely would like to celebrate the day he entered this world.