Huevos Hyacinth

Great cookbooks are no longer limited to the commissioned writings of famous chefs or household TV personalities. The democratization of the cookbook allows more people with a good story and recipe to get their works published.

I stumbled upon the Pioneer Woman’s blog while googling for Photoshop actions one afternoon, and I’ve been a devout fan since. Ree Drummond’s cookbook “The Pioneer Woman Cooks” was actually my first cookbook purchase in years. Worth it? I think so! Nothing like step-by-step photo tutorials of how to make some finger-licking, lip-smacking southern comfort cowboy food. Makes me want to take a trip down south to experience the real thing. Her food blog also offers countless recipes and gorgeous food photos to boot.

So I decided to try my hand at some of the dishes Pioneer Woman would serve to Marlboro Man and the kids. Nothing too heavy since I was still trying to get in shape for a Disney trip later in June (which, by the way, was fantastic fun. Didn’t actually go to any of the Disney parks but had a blast at Harry Potter World. More on that later).

Final choices? Huevos hyacinth for the appetizer and potato leek pizza for the main course. Can’t tear me away from the eggs or carbs 🙂


2 thin slices ham or turkey
2 large eggs
2 tomato slices
Picante sauce (optional)
Black pepper
Crumbled goat cheese (or Monterey Jack)


1) Butter individual ramekins and place a piece of thinly sliced ham or turkey at the bottom. Add a tomato slice on top of the meat.

2) If you’re feeling spicy, use a couple tablespoons of picante sauce instead. I used both tomato slices and a few drops of Frank’s hot sauce.

3) Gently crack an egg over the top of each ramekin. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

4) Top each ramekin with ¼ cup grated cheese. Monterey Jack works nicely, but I used some of the leftover goat cheese from the potato leek pizza.

5) Broil for 2 to 4 minutes, removing when the yellow of the egg is still soft but not overly runny.

Serves two.

The egg whites came out too runny after 4 minutes, so I stuck the ramekins back under the broiler for a few more minutes. While tasty, I’m sad to say I wasn’t an immediate convert. There was too much liquid in my ramekin, a combination of the hardly-solidified egg white and juice from the tomato slice. Great flavor from the goat cheese and deli meat though. (Goat cheese, my new cheese love…)

Had much better results with the potato leek pizza’s a preview of what’s to come next post:

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Chicken Gizzard & Heart Yakitori

Japanese yakitori is usually made from bite-sized pieces of chicken meat or offalskewered on a bamboo skewer and grilled over charcoal. Diners usually have the choice of having it cooked with salt (shio) or tare sauce. This recipe uses the tare approach, a marinade that is usually made of mirin, sake, soy sauce, and sugar.

You are missing out if you’re one of the foodies out there still afraid of trying internal organs. I grew up with the mentality that food should never be wasted, and every part of the animal can and should be eaten. I have vivid memories of my dad sucking the juices from shrimp heads and my mom fighting to claim the eyeballs from the steamed fish.

As a result, I have no fear (and even welcome) ear, tongue, feet, stomach, intestine, lung, liver, sweetbreads…you name it, and I will most likely eat it. That’s why one of the most exciting culinary trends to date is the increasing readiness of people to experiment with new foods and the restaurants out there ready to cater to the growing demand.

One of my personal favorites would have to be chicken gizzard. The meats have that irresistible crunchy, chewy texture, with a simple soy sauce marinade really bringing out the flavors. I purchased a 20oz package of Perdue chicken gizzard and heart at Gristedes for only $1.89! Good deal? I would say so.

But then again…what about the nutritional value? My curiousity led to a quick Google search. A cup of chicken gizzard has 212 calories and a whopping 179% of your daily cholesterol needs. Not something you want to be eating everyday, but hey, one large egg has 71% of your daily cholesterol needs, and I sure as hell am not giving up my eggs 🙂

This is a delightful appetizer to serve on a stick, and hopefully you’ll be expanding the taste palettes of all your dinner guests! (Maybe make some on the grill for this year’s Memorial Day weekend BBQ?)


1 lb chicken gizzard & heart
4 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sugar
2 cloves garlic


1) Wash chicken gizzards and hearts thoroughly. Cut into bite size pieces.

2) Mince the garlic. Combine soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and garlic in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes until sauce thickens.

3) Save 3 tbsp of the sauce for serving and pour remaining sauce over the chicken. Mix well, cover, and chill in the refrigerator for 1-3 hours.

4) Soak the bamboo skewers (toothpicks in my case) in water for an hour to minimize burning in the oven.

5) Wash and cut off the white part of the scallion. I added this piece to my yakitori and saved the green part for garnish. Thread the marinated chicken pieces onto the skewers, alternating with the scallion if desired.

6) Broil in the oven for 13 minutes. Serve skewers with reserved sauce brushed on top.

*) To make the scallion curl garnish, cut the vegetable into 3 inch pieces and make thin lengthwise cuts 2 inches in. Place in cold water and let stand 1 minute until edges curl. Remove from water – it is now ready to be used on your plate!

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Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Apples and Walnuts

Salad making has never a specialty of mine. My parents immigrated from a land where vegetables had to be thoroughly washed and well cooked. As a result, raw vegetables were a rare part of my diet growing up. I do fondly remember eating the occasional iceberg lettuce doused with thousand island dressing with my dad, who had a penchant for the thick, creamy sweet condiment.

This early exposure to thousand island dressing was probably what fueled my love for Big Macs growing up 😛

The warm goat cheese salad I present to you today is a healthy, light way to start off your next meal. Use a different type of apple if you find the Granny Smith to be too tart, especially paired with the honey apple cider vinaigrette. I cracked open my own walnuts with a garlic press (I do recommend getting an actual nutcracker though), but you can buy pre-shelled walnuts to make your lives a bit easier.


1 granny smith apple, sliced
3 oz goat cheese log, sliced into 1/3 inch rounds
3 cup spring mix salad
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

5-½ tbsp honey
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 pinch salt
1 pinch freshly ground Pepper
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 dash lemon juice


1) Preheat oven to 375 F. Place the sliced goat cheese on a baking sheet and bake for 6 minutes until the cheese has melted inside but still retains its shape.

2) For the vinaigrette, whisk together the honey and vinegar till the honey has dissolved. Season with salt and pepper and slowly add the olive oil while stirring. Add a dash of lemon juice. Taste the vinaigrette and adjust accordingly if you want a sweeter dressing.

3) Toss the spring mix greens with the dressing. Add the walnuts and apple slices and mix well.

4) Plate the salad and add the warm slices of goat cheese on top. Enjoy!

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Roast Chicken and Potatoes

The monthly subscription business exploded in popularity about a year ago as monthly hand-selected boxes including beauty products (Birchbox being an original), doggy treats, and Paleo snacks came on the scene to tempt consumers.

Andrew loves his Bespoke Post subscription – a monthly shipment of manly #boxofawesome goodness. You can find a comprehensive list of available subscription boxes at Fantabulously Frugal.

The concept is fairly easy – pay X dollars a month and the company will ship a hand-selected box of goodies straight to your doorstep. It’s a great way to sample new products, and you can purchase the full-size versions on the website if something strikes your fancy.

I of course jumped on the chance to get a free trial box of food through Foodzie. Foodzie allows you to discover artisanal treats like crispy seaweed snacks and organic dried pineapple for the monthly subscription price of $29.95 ($19.95 when the service first started). I like Foodzie’s branding strategy – every box is a tasting adventure! They also help small-batch food makers get their products out there on the market.

My box of goodies included sample packets of Wood’s Gourmet spices and a recipe card for some roast chicken and potatoes. Make sure to rub the chicken liberally with the Basil & Lemongrass Herb Sea Salt. I love anything that simplifies the cooking process and still makes me feel like an awesome cook :D. The tender, juicy leftover chicken makes perfect sandwiches for lunch the next day.


1 small whole chicken (about 3 – 3 1/2 pounds)
1 tbsp of Woody’s Gourmet Basil & Lemongrass Herb Sea Salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 sprigs of fresh marjoram
1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
1 lb of small German butterball potatoes
Woody’s Gourmet Fresh Rosemary and Sage Sea Salt, to taste
extra virgin olive oil


1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2) Rinse the chicken inside and out and pat it dry. Drizzle the olive oil on top and rub it over the chicken.

3) Rub the chicken (inside and out) with the lemongrass sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Stuff the cavity with the sprigs of fresh marjoram.

4) Rinse the potatoes and place them into a cast iron griddle. Toss them with the rosemary sea salt (to taste), a sprinkling of freshly-ground pepper and a generous drizzle of olive oil.

5) Heat a large cast iron griddle over medium-high heat. When the griddle is hot, place the chicken, breast side down, into the griddle. Cook for a few minutes, letting the skin brown lightly. Flip to the other side, and cook for a few minutes before flipping it again and placing it in the oven to roast.

6) Place the potatoes alongside the chicken. Check the potatoes after about 30 minutes and take them out of the oven when they’re fork-tender. Check the chicken to make sure it is not browning too quickly. Roast the chicken for about 45 minutes to an hour (until the juices run clear).

Remove the chicken from the cast iron griddle and set it on a large cutting board. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes before carving it (this helps keep it moist and juicy).

7) Serve the chicken with the potatoes.

Serves 2.

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Chicken Teriyaki

Inspiration? A quick and cheap Japanese entree that would balance out the Miso Glazed Salmon. Complexity? Possibly one of the simplest dishes I’ve ever created. This particular recipe should be called an LJ shortcut. It features two very basic ingredients – chicken and marinade sauce 🙂

Teriyaki sauce is usually a mixture of soy sauce, mirin, sake, and honey. (Variations include adding sugar, ginger, garlic, etc).

However, I just happened to own an unused bottle of Kikkoman Teriyaki Sauce, and I decided to take the lazy route with the premade sauce. Super easy recipe to make, a welcome dish that slowly cooked in the oven as I worked on the homemade dashi stock for the other dishes.


6 chicken drumsticks
Kikkoman teriyaki sauce.


1) Put drumsticks in a bowl and cover with teriyaki sauce. Cover and marinate overnight in the fridge.

2) Lay chicken on lined baking pan and bake covered at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 50 minutes, turning once. Make sure the meat is fully cooked before serving.

Yumm tender chicken meat! Simple is good =)

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Steamed Mussels in Garlic and White Wine

Shame on me, it’s been a while since my last update. The hectic balancing act that was my life the past few months has now calmed down a bit, giving me additional reflection time on next steps. And of course, time to return to my food blog and take care of some neglected LJ Bistro dishes from the end of Summer & Fall.

I wanted to cook a seafood themed dinner for LJ Bistro #15, and some steamed mussels sounded like the perfect opening dish. I’ve always placed a high value on shellfish, with fantasies of one day eating unlimited lobsters dancing in my mind. Until then, I satisfy those shellfish cravings with $1 happy hour raw oysters and $2.50 seafood chigae from Woorijip. And on special binge sessions? Juicy king crab legs at Chinese buffets *drool*.

Mussels are definitely on the affordable end as well and surprisingly easy to cook! No longer are you limited to fancy French restaurants for your Moules Frites fix. Enjoy these fine moules delicacies from the comfort of your own home. And *ahem* according to Andrew, this dish is perfect for you male cooks out there looking to impress a special lady friend (sophisticated dish created with minimal effort).

On a final note before we dive into how to steam some delicious mussels, I want to invite you guys to join Lot18, a beautifully designed daily deals website that provides insider access to fine wines, specialty foods, and epicurean-themed excursions. I actually haven’t quite learned to fully appreciate a glass of full-bodied wine, so for me I love browsing the site for deals on cookware and utensils. I recently purchased a gorgeous Nero fondue set. Now I just need some people over to enjoy!


3 lb mussels
1 cup chopped onions
6 cloves minced garlic
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp flour (optional, used to thicken broth)


1) Clean the mussels by placing them in a bowl of water for about 30 minutes until the mussels open up and disgorge any sand. Scrub the outside shells with a brush under running water, removing the “beard” from each with your fingers. Throw away any mussels whose shells are not tightly shut.

2) Heat the olive oil in a large griddle over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 3 minutes until the onions are translucent.

3) Add the tomatoes, white wine, parsley, thyme, flour, salt, and pepper to the pot. Bring everything to a boil.

4) Add the mussels, stir well, and cover the griddle. Cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes until all the mussels are open. While steaming, shake the pot once or twice to distribute the broth over the mussels and to make sure they don’t burn on the bottom.

5) Discard any mussels that do not open. Mussels that do not open were dead already before being cooked, and you don’t want to risk getting food poisoning! Pour the mussels and broth into a large bowl and serve immediately.

Don’t forget a few thick chunks of bread to soak up all that delicious broth at the bottom! I went with a freshly baked demi baguette from Trader Joes. If you’re feeling very ambitious, fry up some frites to eat alongside your steamed mussels. Bon appetit!

Inspired by Ina Garten’s “Mussels in White Wine” recipe

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Linguine with Sea Urchin and Shrimp

Continuing along with the seafood theme of LJ Bistro #15, I wanted to create an unique entree that really brought forth the flavors of the sea without involving any fish. Fellow food bloggers spoke highly of the Maccheroni alla Chitarra with Sea Urchin and Crabmeat pasta dish at Esca. This was a Mario Batali specialty starring sea urchin (uni in Japanese) – I just had to make it.

Now uni isn’t for everyone. I had only tried it raw in the past served on beds of slightly warm sushi rice wrapped in nori seaweed. How to best describe this little sea creature? Sea urchins are small, round creatures with spiny shells to protect against predators. Imagine tiny round hedgehogs roaming the ocean beds. Go beyond the spiny exterior to reveal the sweet, buttery, orange tongue-like meat inside. The meat we eat is actually the sex organ harvested from these spiky sea creatures. Sounds delicious, no?

I found a great recipe on Zen Can Cook that combines pasta with sea urchin and langoustines a la Esca. For instructions on how to make the real home-made langoustine broth, check out the original recipe. I took the easy way out and used seafood broth instead. Lobster broth is also a great alternative! I also substituted shrimp for the crab meat/langoustines (couldn’t find those darn suckers anywhere in Chinatown that day!)


10 large shrimp
1/2 lb linguine
1 tbsp butter
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Parsley (optional garnish)

For the pasta sauce:
4 oz fresh sea urchin (uni)
2 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 cup seafood or lobster broth


1) Wash, peel, and devein the shrimp. Season with a little salt and pepper.

2) Place the sea urchin, softened butter, and pinch of salt in a bowl. Mix this in a food processor until smooth. You can also mix by hand.

3) Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the linguine and cook to al dente based on the instructions on the box. Drain.

4) While the pasta is cooking, heat some olive oil in a large skillet. Add the shrimp in a single layer and cook about a minute. Flip the shrimp over and cook for another minute. The meat will be opaque throughout when done.

5) Bring the half cup of broth to a boil in a large pan. Turn the heat to low and whisk in the sea urchin mixture until smooth. This results in a very creamy sauce. You can use some of the pasta cooking water to adjust the thickness as desired.

6) Plate the pasta and add the cooked shrimp. Pour the sea urchin sauce over the pasta. Season with additional salt and pepper. I sprinkled some parsley on top to add additional color to the dish. Enjoy!

Serves 2

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BBQ Beef Brisket

This is a ridiculously easy way of cooking mouthwateringly tender beef brisket. Beef brisket is a cut of meat from the breast or lower chest of a cow. The brisket muscles support about 60% of the cow’s body weight, resulting in a lot of connective tissue. Hence, cooking the meat for several hours until the connective tissue is properly tenderized is a must!

All you really need is barbecue sauce and soy sauce for the marinade. I added garlic and lime to give the dish some additional kick. 3 to 4 lbs of beef is a lot of food, so I definitely recommend cooking this for a larger group (this recipe will serve about 6-8 people)! I originally made this for a winter potluck with friends, and the slices of beef went fast.


3 to 4 lbs beef brisket
3/4 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup of water
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lime


1) Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.

2) In a bowl, mix together the barbecue sauce, soy sauce, water, garlic, and juice from the lime.

3) Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil. This first layer of foil is to prevent potential sauce spillage from sticking to your pan and burning during the cooking process. Place the brisket on top of another large piece of aluminum foil. Spread the sauce mixture generously over the meat. Wrap the brisket in the foil and place it in the roasting pan.

4) Bake the brisket for 4-5 hours. As a general rule, bake one hour for every pound of meat. I kept mine in the oven for 5 hours to ensure maximum tenderness.

5) Remove from oven and let rest in the foil for 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

To round out the meal, I served the slices of brisket with some potatoes cooked in olive oil and salt/pepper. The brisket is also great for making sandwiches with the next day (if you even have any leftovers!)

Recipe inspired by Simply Recipes

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I Love To Hate, I Hate To Love

I could not stop thinking about him.

He consumed my thoughts. Every morning during Chemistry, I stared at the back of his sleek, combed brown hair and watched his habitual pen tapping while he paid attention to the teacher’s lecture. Every band session I listened to the rhythm of the music enforced by his drum set, the thump-thump-thump of the drumsticks coinciding with the pounding in my heart. During lunch, his spirited laughter could always be heard from my table several rows down. At night, he invited himself into my dreams, always present with a smile.

But these dreams were more like nightmares…

I hated him. Absolutely detested him.

My friends always joked about my obsession over him. “Just admit that you’re in love with him,” they would say as they winked at each other and giggled. “Your eyes follow him like hungry puppy eyes lusting for a delicious dinner.” But they were wrong. All of them. Yes, I did lust after him; I lusted for his demise.

Yes, I did appear to love him if judged by my outward actions. I always smiled in his presence and spoke to him as I would with any other guy friend. But inside, I seethed. I had reigned in this school before his arrival; fellow classmates had always approached me for homework help, and I had starred in every musical performance since entering into the school. All this stardom belonged only to me – until he appeared two months ago; he with the fancy car and “charming” smile and “incomparable” brain.

There is a thin line between love and hate. Everything in this world has two sides, one to balance out the other. The yin and the yang, as you might refer to it. There exists a delicate balance between the positive love and the negative hate, an almost indistinguishable line that separates the two emotions. It was this thin line that my friends failed to notice during their analysis. The similarities between the two emotions overshadowed the differences.

When you love somebody dearly, the image of that person constantly lingers in your mind. When you hate somebody bitterly, the image of that person also haunts your thoughts.  His presence never fully departs from your side. When you see somebody strangely muttering to himself or constantly flipping her hair back, you recall the similar idiosyncrasies of the one you love or hate. The habit may seem cute or detestable depending on your feelings toward that person. For me, I felt severe aggravation as every morning the pen went ta-ta-ta on the wooden desk. Every. Single. Morning.

The feelings of hate and love consume the entire mind and body. Your body reacts whenever you see that person; whether you’re writhing in the hot fires of deep loathing or aching with the loving desire to embrace the person tightly. These passions drive people to the ultimate lengths to accomplish the ultimate deed. Rape, murder – they can all be accomplished in the name of love and hate. Consumed by these emotions, all rationality seems to be of utter unimportance.

However, I controlled myself though. In hate and love, one must learn to suppress her emotions until the appropriate occasion. Possessing such a strong emotion makes one especially vulnerable to losing self-composure. Even though I felt that sending a punch to his nose would have been an efficient way to release some of my dislike, I suppressed those desires and smiled at him instead. Having desires is also a part of love – desire for union with the beloved’s heart and body. But those desires must also be suppressed until a more appropriate occasion as to preserve the respectable reputation of both parties.

Yes, I scorned the inability of my friends to understand what seemed so clear to me. How could they confuse the negativity of my hatred with the positive feeling of love? Yes, the characteristics of the two are similar, but different facial expressions and tone of voice accompany the two different emotions. I had learned how to lift up my eyes to create the perfect fake smile and transformed my wavering, bitter tone of voice to a more pleasant sound.

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Bountiful Harvest

I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate all of the Class of 2005 graduates. We have all come a long way during the past four years, but we still have a long way to go.

I see everyone in our class as farmers. Farmers who eagerly planted their seeds into the soil four years ago. Patiently we waited for those seeds to grow into big, healthy, strong trees. We watered the budding saplings with the new knowledge learned everyday; we helped them brave the harsh winds of quizzes and exams and the overbearing heat of relentless teachers and homework assignments.

All that hard work has paid off. For standing in front of everyone now are the big, tall trees laden with luscious, ripe fruit – the fruit of demanding labor and dedication. As each one of us is different, so is the fruit dangling from the branches of these trees that we have grown. Crisp, sweet apples, soft, fuzzy peaches, tangy oranges, tart pears…the list goes on and on.

However, we cannot just stand around staring in admiration. We have to harvest the fruit before it rots and falls to the ground. Why let the triumphant results of the last four years lie wasting away? So much more can be done with that juicy apple or orange. Polish clean that apple with your shirt and sink your teeth into its beige, fleshy interior. For those feeling more innovative, why not mold this fruit into something that you are absolutely craving? More work will be necessary to gather and combine the necessary ingredients, but the steaming apple pie that waits in the oven or the cold glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice will be the alluring reward at the very end.

The future is uncertain, but we all have the power to shape it according to our personal interests and dreams. I know that everybody will make the best of every situation. The sun will still beat down with its hot rays and the winds will still blow, but feel assured that your tree has already been rooted. All that remains is taking care of the fruit. May your harvest be bountiful.

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