Start Saying Hanjuku Tamago

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a plate photo!

Full Disclosure: I can’t think of any other phrase that would properly articulate the joy of reading, “Welcome back!” in text messages responding to plate photos being sent to them for the first time in far too long besides “Thank You. Thank you so, so much.” Y’all rock.

Okay. On the off-chance you thought the title of this post referred to some sort of complicated methodology you wouldn’t dream of attempting, think again. For the trivia lovers, non-Japanese-Americans, and the few who don’t make a regular habit of consuming ramen, (By the way, please start consuming ramen if you don’t. Find your Ramen Wonderland, go forth, and be centered. I digress.), hanjuku tamago just means “half-boiled egg.”

A dear friend of mine recently purchased a sous vide immersion circulator, (Google it), and told me about his ability to make the liquid-yolk eggs of my fantasies consistently as a result, and I’ve since been in search of radioactive spiders to bite me, in hope that they will provide me with this superpower.

The concept of cooking eggs in sous vide immersion circulators being hyped as the ideal means of execution brings about the angsty teenage rebel in me. This may be true, but if restaurants without such technology can make it happen on a regular basis, then why can’t I do the same at home?

The way I prepare hanjuku tamago (get used to it, start using it) is not the same way I prepare hard-boiled eggs. Don’t start groaning, yet. The end will justify the means.

Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat, then add a large pinch of salt. (Remember, you only need enough water to cover the eggs, so a smaller pot is fine. Just remember to account for water displacement once things start getting hot.)

Use a slotted spoon to lower the eggs into the water, (Trust me when I say dumping water out of an egg while peeling it just feels yucky.), and let them sit there for 6-8 minutes. The eggs photographed below were cooked for 8 minutes, then sat around for a bit while I made the plate look halfway decent.

When time is up, gently drain the eggs into a colander, then immediately run tap water as cold as you can get it over them. Scandalize and shock those eggs into not cooking any further. Keep running the water and turning the eggs until they are cool to the touch, then gently crack and peel them. When it’s time to serve them, slice them in half with a sharp knife, otherwise yolk will ooze everywhere in something more tragic than choosing to take the 405 in Los Angeles at 5:00 PM – that’s not sexy.

This amazing cookbook, written by the American wife of a Japanese egg farmer, recommends dipping hanjuku tamago in both soy sauce and mayonnaise. With this in mind, the dipping sauce/salad dressing used here consisted of the following:

  • soy sauce (low sodium, please)
  • sesame oil
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • garlic
  • green onions

Mess around with the proportions. Quite honestly, I wasn’t keeping track, but I’d recommend one tablespoon of sesame oil for every two tablespoons of soy sauce for getting started. The amount of olive oil is a matter of preference. I only added a splash, because I was worried the dipping sauce would start tasting too greasy. Fling a dollop of mayonnaise on the side, and if you’re into this sort of thing, a raaare steak on top. (Seriously, just walk the cow through a warm room with some flame-throwers, and I’m good.)

hanjuku tamago

For all you Spotify guys and gals, the playlist for this one went as follows:

“Miss Jackson” – Panic! At the Disco
“Stereo Hearts” – Gym Glass Heroes & Adam Levine
“Mind Your Manners” – Chiddy Bang
“Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” – Jay Z
“Stacy’s Mom” – Bowling for Soup
“Stroke Me” – Mickey Avalon
“All Star” – Smash Mouth”

Sometimes You Want Other People to Do the Cooking (Even though I Contributed a Side Dish)

Raise your hand if someone else cooking for you sounds like a good idea. I’m glad you agree.

The gentlemen in our apartment went on a massive Costco run, leaving me to fend for myself for a few hours. Uncertain about the evening’s plans, I picked up a few standards at the market and chose to bide my time until it was time to unload. This translates to eating rice cakes and falling asleep while watching “How I Met Your Mother” reruns. Upon their return, I was told Awesome Roommate would be preparing salmon with a cucumber salad side for dinner.

Awesome Roommate’s salmon was fantastic. He marinated the fish for about 2 hours in sesame oil, maple syrup, soy sauce, garlic, and red pepper flakes, squeezing lemon juice on top after it came off the grill. It’s simple, and maybe it has to do with him knowing the contents of our fridge and pantry (and being able to reach all of them, being almost a foot taller than me) – but he’s got the most fantastic culinary knee-jerk inclinations with flavor and technique.

There’s a food version of trivial pursuit, and he’s the only one who’s ever beat me.

I contributed a simple salad (NOT part of the 50 Shades of Salad entries) that intrigued me to use caraway seeds for the first time. If you’re wondering what caraway seeds taste like, think of a bitter version of cumin, with an aroma like dill.

Caraway is from the carrot family – no, I didn’t know this before I liberally sprinkled the seeds all over my roasting vegetables – but the irony of using something from the carrot family to season carrots is not lost on me.

I’m probably the only one who actually thinks the above joke is funny. No matter.

Roasted Carrot and Mushroom Salad

Turn an oven to 450.

Put 1 and 1/2 pounds of sliced carrots (I just bought the bag. Like I mentioned above – I wasn’t in the mood for putting forth much effort.) and 10 ounces of halved mushrooms on a baking sheet.

Drizzle with 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, toss on two cloves of mashed garlic and three sprigs of fresh thyme, then sprinkle to taste with caraway seeds, kosher salt, and paprika.

Roast for 30 minutes until tender, then squeeze one lemon’s worth of juice over the top.

It looks like something to be eaten in autumn, but I promise it’s very light.

Other people doing the bulk of the cooking can lead to fantastic discoveries. Or something charred and inedible. (The Awesome Roommate makes killer salmon, by the way. Definitely try the simple marinade above.) Moral of the story: cook with friends. Regardless of what happens, I’ve never encountered that couldn’t be solved with good company and good wine.

I’m Bad at Puns: Fried Tomatillos with Apple and Ham

There are good work days and bad work days. There are healthy meals and unhealthy meals. We are constantly in the liminal spade between these extremes, which is all the more reason to have meals in one’s arsenal to bank on. This is one of them. It will suit your cathartic need to cook out stress after a bad day, satisfy your sense of adventure by letting you try something new in the kitchen, and it includes a form of bacon. What more could you ask for? (Besides to not have a vegetarian come for dinner…..sorry kids. Then again, leave the ham off and this is a lovely vegetarian dish.)

In case you haven’t figured it out: today was a bad work day. Food improves circumstances. Tomorrow is another day.

Life goes on.

Plus this meal is delicious.

My directions are going to be very blunt/direct, because this plate of food is more complicated than what I normally make, and I don’t want to throw you off your A-game with my sassy directions. Trust me though – it’s money. Make, eat, and love it in good health.

Fried Tomatillos with Apple and Ham (and Jalapeno-Cilantro Aioli) – Adapted from Iron Chef Jose Garces’ recipe in Food Network Magazine

For the Topping:

  • 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped ham
  • 1 gala apple – cut into matchsticks (Also, please google search how to do this and tell me, because I spent way too long slicing these damn apples.)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 4 green onions – finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley – finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives – finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary – finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme – finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste

For the Tomatillos:

  • Medium tomatillos (as many as you’ll eat) – husked, rinsed, and cut into wedges
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley – finely chopped
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons mustard powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground tumeric
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

For the Jalapeno-Cilantro Aioli:

  • 1 cup cilantro – chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper – chopped and seeded
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 lime’s worth of juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Kosher salt and pepper  to taste
  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Heat the Extra Virgin Olive Oil over medium-high heat. Cook the ham until golden, remove, and drain.

Toss the apple, vinegar, honey, green onions, parsley, chives, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper together and set aside.

Soak the tomatillos in the milk while mixing the flour, cornmeal, parsley, mustard powder, onion powder, garlic powder, tumeric, salt, and pepper.

Heat two inches of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or regular vegetable oil) over medium high heat (turn the heat down accordingly, depending on how fast the tomatoes fry up). The oil is ready when it bubbles around the handle of a wooden cooking spoon.

Dredge the tomatillos in the flour miture and fry until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on a paper towel, and sprinkle with salt.

To make the aioli, blend all aioli ingredients listed above except the Extra Virgin Olive Oil until smooth, then add the oil and blend again.

Top the tomatillos with the apple mixture, sprinkle with the ham, and drizzle the aioli on top.

Eat while listening to “Mondo Bongo” by Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros

You had me at Bourbon: Melon Salad with Bourbon-Maple Vinaigrette

I have too many magazine subscriptions. My problem isn’t the lack of time to read them (sometimes), but reading in too much detail. All my university textbooks were filled with writing: notes in the margins, underlined things for personal reference, highlighted things for class, doodles based on content, doodles based on nothing at all….you get the point. Karma forbid anyone besides Mr. Right has to share magazines with me, because I have no idea how the hell he puts up with constantly having to look through a horde of sharpie ink to read everything.

I’m one of those girls who gets excited for seasonal changes. No, this doesn’t mean I’m going to trot up to you in Lululemon yoga shorts and an off-the-shoulder sweatshirt to list all my favorite seasonal Starbucks drinks, accessories like legwarmers and headbands, or that I add “<3” to the end of my photos. I have plenty of ladies in my life already doing that so I don’t have to. Just hear me out when I say I’m excited about fall. Pumpkin jargon at Starbucks, boots with legwarmers, and headbands that cover my ears have all been established. Right now, I’m talking about maple syrup.

I’m also talking about bridging the weird gap between summer and fall by incorporating fruit into a plate of food with maple syrup. Oh, and bourbon. When the temperature drops outside, I can’t get enough of bourbon. Okay, let’s be real, I can’t get enough of bourbon at any time of the year. I digress.

Make this and savor the in-between (the liminal, for my friends from the UCLA Department of World Arts and Cultures.) Halloween is coming up too fast (at least according to my Martha Stewart magazine that just came in the mail), and this middle ground is going to be happening until then.

Melon Salad with Bourbon-Maple Vinaigrette

For the Pecans:

  • 1/2 cup pecans (duh)
  • 1 slice thick cut double smoked bacon – diced
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • A few healthy dashes of Old Bay Spice or Emeril’s Essence seasoning. (No, this is not a plug for Emeril. The market was out of Old Bay.)

For the Salad:

  • 1 cup bourbon
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 bunch green onions – finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • Kosher Salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 cantaloupe – peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Turn an oven to 350 and spread the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast them up for 10 to 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon over medium heat until browned and delicious.

(Bonus Point: I got this tip from Giada de Laurentiis via Twitter, and haven’t looked back. I’m also going to keep mentioning this until you try it for yourself. If you sprinkle a dash of ground cinnamon over the bacon in the pan while the fat is rendering out…..holy cow. If you didn’t think bacon could get more delicious. Oh man….I just…..Think again. Okay?)

When the bacon is browned (hopefully you’ve decided to take my advice about the cinnamon), add the maple syrup and vinegar portions from the pecan ingredients. Bring to a simmer and cook until thick (2 -3 is h minutes.)

Take the pan off the heat – no one likes burned bacon.

Stir in the pecans and Old Bay/Emeril’s Essence and spread on the baking sheet to cool.

These will also make your entire kitchen/dining/living room area smell like some sort of cracked out orchard. Delicious.

Simmer the bourbon portion from the salad ingredients over medium low heat. Let this reduce to about one-third of its side (3-4 minutes? Maybe longer. You judge.) Next, whisk in the maple syrup and vinegar and bring to a simmer. Let this reduce to about one-half of its size (3 minutes ish, pending on how hot the pan is.)

Remove from heat, stir in the green onion, and let cool before whisking in the thyme, salt, and oil.

To plate this up, sprinkle the melon with salt to taste, spoon the bourbon glaze over the top, and sprinkle with pecans and cilantro.

And okay, if you want to drink a pumpkin spice latte while eating this, I won’t stop you.

Chicken Pot Pie Soup: Exactly what it sounds like.


Just an excerpt from the photobooth adventures we had at the gentlemen’s company party. There were vodka shots, pretzels, and more alcohol….because it was open bar. I had to be on the ice at 7:45 the following morning, followed by a full museum work day researching ibeji (Google it!) and twin birthrate statistics from Nigeria.

My boyfriend stayed in bed until…..dinner time. The day started off fairly grey and windy, and I was slightly hungover. Something creamy and delicious seemed like a good tactical maneuver. I recalled something called chicken pot pie soup in a Food Network Magazine from a few months ago, complete with a baked piece of pie crust for garnish. Tylenol for my hangover hadn’t inspired me to turn on the oven to garnish anything, but the result was a wicked hangover cure.

It’s enough to make a girl feel pretty again.

This is something I plan on making for my future children (don’t get any ideas – it’s aftershock from reading urban legends about foods leading to twins being born at work), friends, or parents feeling under-the-weather. I will complete my Florence Nightingale complex by delivering this soup to those in need. It tastes exactly like the inside of a chicken pot pie: creamy, hearty, and comforting.


  • Lemon Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts – cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • salt
  • 2 stalks celery – chopped
  • 1 medium yellow or sweet onion – chopped
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup nonfat Half & Half
  • 3 medium gold potatoes – chopped
  • 1 package of frozen mixed vegetables – peas, carrots, corn, you know the drill

Get a soup pot ready and melt the butter over medium high. Add the chicken pieces with a generous pinch of salt, and cook for 2 minutes, or until the chicken isn’t pink anymore. Transfer the chicken to a bowl.

Now add the celery, onion, flour, another pinch of salt, and the lemon pepper to taste to the pot. Stir for one minute, or until the vegetables are soft and the flour has created a small amount of thickened sauce with the remaining butter and vegetable liquid.

Pour in 2 cups of water with the broth, Half & Half, and potatoes. Cover and bring to a simmer over High heat.

Once simmering, the pot should only be partially covered. Let the cauldron bubble for 10 minutes, then add the bag of frozen mixed vegetables and cook until tender (this could be anything from 6 minutes to 18 minutes.) Once the vegetables are soft, add the chicken pieces to the soup for 1-5 minutes (i.e. until they’re cooked all the way through.)

This magical cauldron will cure several things that ail you. So friends, if you’re sick – I’ll be happy to make this for you.

If I had my druthers, I would have served this with the above-mentioned pie crust garnish, for soaking up the leftover broth.

A Two-Ingredient Side Dish for Dieters who Miss Mashed Potatoes

This weekend, I was all set to consume a few cocktails. I wanted to lie poolside and bake myself as golden-brown as a cookie. (Wear sunscreen though, kids. Safety first.) And it RAINED?? All weekend?? Rude.

Cauliflower gets featured in a lot of magazines as a dieter “go-to.” Some claim the texture of baked cauliflower resembles the taste of oven chicken wings. It doesn’t. Shift topic to mashed potatoes. It’s not just a Thanksgiving or Christmas side dish. Restaurants serve it year-round, and….why shouldn’t they? Eating mashed potatoes is like eating a buttery cloud of unicorn magic.

I’ve been asked about healthy alternatives to mashed potatoes, and I promise this one will give you the idea you’re craving. The texture and creaminess is on point. All you need is cauliflower and nonfat plain Greek yogurt, plus whatever herbs/seasonings are already in your kitchen.

What to do:

Turn your oven to 450 and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray the foil with non-stick spray. Chop up the cauliflower (the smaller the pieces are, the easier it will be to mash) and distribute evenly on the baking sheet. Season to your liking – I only used kosher salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes on this one and it was fantastic.

Make a foil package of sorts by putting another layer of foil over the top of the baking dish to seal in the heat.

Roast for 20 minutes. Then remove the top layer of foil, and roast for another 15 minutes. Mix with 1/2 to 2/3 cup of the nonfat plain Greek yogurt, then puree in a blender or Vitamix, pausing to stir up and mash with a fork every now and then.

I consumed this with spirit and fervor – not unlike battling my cousins for side dishes during family holiday dinners. Maybe I could use this as a training mechanism for maximum holiday meal efficiency. Hmm….

Fifty Shades of Salad #5: Mediterranean Vinaigrette (and a Moderately Serious Post About My Mother)

My mother loves fresh vegetables, especially tomatoes grown at my grandmother’s farm in Sacramento. She still finds it amusing that the bumpy, multi-colored tomatoes too ugly to sell for profit and only used for family meals are now the expensive “heirloom” varieties in stores and farmers markets.

I didn’t develop an appreciation for tomatoes and salad until my senior year of high school. Strange, but true.

My mom is awesome. I talk to my parents as often as possible, and can honestly say there are no secrets between us. Nothing is off-limits with them. From a very young age, they drilled into me their desire to always know – the sex, drugs, and Kim/Kanye elements of everything I do.

Don’t worry. She’s not this mom.

My parents let me experience things for myself before asking them for help. This is especially emotional for me to process now, since some of the stuff I pulled couldn’t have been easy to watch. It was recently the three-year anniversary of a very intense brain surgery my mother had in 2010. Needless to say, I’m feeling very nostalgic and had some tears to spare earlier.

Mediterranean Vinaigrette for Any of Mom’s Salads:

Whisk together 2 tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar + 2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard + 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt + pepper to taste + 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Mash in 1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese.

Whisk in an additional 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley + 1 teaspoon dry oregano + 1 diced plum tomato.

This vinaigrette goes wonderfully with any Mediterranean-type chicken recipe.

Tell whatever motherly figure – family, friend, etc. – that you love them.

Love you, Mom. Real talk.

Fifty Shades of Salad #4: I know it’s a lot, but I’m giving you bacon.

Bacon (n.) – [BAY-KON]

the back and sides of the hog, salted and dried or smoked, usually sliced thin and fried for food


“Bring home the bacon” – i.e. to provide for material needs, be successful or victorious

According to urbandictionary:

Delicious strips of juicy, pork heaven. Served often at breakfast with eggs, but perfectly good served alone and at any time of day.

Bacon is delicious. It’s enough to make one-night stands stick around for breakfast and keep hangovers at bay until you can sink back into the safety of your pillow. Or if you’re me, it’s enough to make the busiest week of the museum year (my Monday and Tuesday consisted of dealing with 1,168 and 1,248 visitors respectively….and that was only the beginning….) go away when eaten in bed while watching “How I Met Your Mother,” “Daria,” and “Friends.”

Try this vinaigrette for a hint of decadent happiness without compromising calories.

Whisk together 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, pepper to taste, and 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Once emulsified, whisk in 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese, 3 slices of crumbled cooked bacon (try to find thick cut bacon….it’s got the best texture), and 2 tablespoons chopped green onions.

Crispy nuggets of love.

Finally getting my hair cut tomorrow. After which I plan to lounge about in the sunshine while watching 90s TV reruns on my laptop.

Within the next couple of weeks, I’ll also be filming my first video blog entry. Any suggestions for things to cook? Or advice on how to look skinny on camera?

All right, I Caved: Pumpkin Mania Soup

I’ve somehow managed to resist all things pumpkin-related thus far. No pumpkin spice lattes in September, pumpkin bread and curry in October, and – until Thanksgiving – pumpkin pie in November. I’ve managed to avoid the glossy handouts and magazine photos…..even a fall issue of “Food Network” magazine with a booklet called “50 Things to do with Canned Pumpkin.” So far, so good.

It’s not that I don’t like pumpkin; it just hasn’t come up. I promise I’ll make up my lack of pumpking love with this recipe. So easy, I should have consumed the better part of a bottle of wine while making this. (Tangent: Don’t mix a bottle each of red and white on your birthday. I should have known this, but decided to pretend I had my college tolerance that evening.)

I made this soup as one of the dishes for my holiday party on the 12th, and it went over really well.

Better than the “How I Met Your Mother” slutty pumpkin.

Has pumpkin – canned pure pumpkin, even – always been this wonderful? Am I a pumpkin infant? What other pumpkin recipes can I make use of between now and whenever pumpkin stops being relevant? I’ve got to make up for lost time.

This one makes me think of two close friends wandering in the door for dinner, eating with bowls in our laps or resting on the coffee table while catching up on TV – most likely “Boardwalk Empire.” Maybe accompanied by some sort of pumpkin beer or mug of chai tea in hand.


I knew Linus and I had something in common.

Pumpkin Soup with Apple and/or Bacon

  • 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • pumpkin pie spice to taste
  • salt
  • 1 apple – cubed
  • 1 tablespoon of salted butter
  • Bacon to taste (if at all)

Whisk the pumpkin, chicken broth, cream, and pumpkin pie spice together in a saucepan over Medium heat for 5ish minutes, or until slightly reduced and thickened. Then whisk in the maple syrup.

Let this reduce, stirring if it ends up coming to a boil.

Meanwhile, cook the apple in butter until it gets soft.

If you feel like adding bacon, cook the bacon to the crispiness of your liking, just make sure to sprinkle cinnamon over the bacon while it’s cooking in the pan so the cinnamon renders into the bacon – great complexity of flavor….great holiday feel…..great in general. Just do it.

Add salt to taste to the soup (a large pinch should do it). Serve topped with the apple and crumbled bacon.

My kind of slutty pumpkin.

Fifty Shades of Salad #3: Roasted Garlic Salad Dressing

October 2013: The Month of Garlic. At least that’s what it seems to be turning into. I realize the month is just beginning, but I’ve been craving strong, garlicky flavor with everything…..on fries….on macaroni and cheese recipe….and in salad dressing. I’m not fighting any vampires, and at least the person most likely to smell my garlic breath is consuming all these things with me?

I’m ordinarily strongly opposed to salad dressings that take longer than one minute to make. I made an exception for this one because I wanted an excuse to roast garlic. If you’ve never tried roasted garlic, there’s no time like the present. Our Awesome Former Roommate and I have both admitted to eating an entire head of roasted garlic by ourselves. Because we’re awesome.

(And vampire slayers.)

Oh, right. You’re here for the salad. Go make the vinaigrette, already.


Slice the top off 1 head of garlic and drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Wrap in foil and roast at 400 degrees until tender (about 35 minutes). Place a baking sheet underneath the foil ball of garlic love in case any of the oil drips out. Once tender, let cool and squeeze out the cloves – they should be golden brown and delicious looking.

Combine 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, pepper to taste, and 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a blender, food processor, or magic bullet until smooth.

Add the peeled roasted garlic cloves and 3 tablespoons grated parmesan and blend again.

No vampire or wooden stake necessary for serving.

No Edward Cullen in sight.