Wednesday, March 31, 2010

split pea soup

Split peas cooked with water and a slab of bacon last night. Tonight, pureed with salt and pepper. Result: delicious! Split pea soup is one of those go-to things for me that is always so darn good.

RAMPS are here! Spring is official!

Jude called me on his way home tonight and alluded to the fact that he had a *very* special ingredient for tonight's dinner...Immediately I knew it was ramps! RAMPS! First of the season! And I really mean first. The only farmer at the Union Square Farmer's Market with ramps yet this season only had a little bit and gave them away this morning to The Food Network for a show they were doing and didn't have any out for sale...but Jude got lucky this afternoon and, while they were talking about whether or not he'd be able to have enough for the restaurant by Saturday, he slipped Jude two bunches! So I'm feeling REALLY good right now about having some of the only ramps in NYC tonight!

So there was a generous use of exclamation points in that last paragraph. But I stand by my hearty enthusiasm. Ramps are, hands-down, my favorite vegetable. If you haven't ever eaten a ramp, please do so immediately. A ramp is like a cross between a garlic, an onion, and a leek. They are only harvested and eaten fresh for a short period in the spring (although you can pickle them for future use--pickled ramps are delicious). Ramps are so pungent. We put them up to Ruby's nose and she was curious at first, and then a little bit offended by the big smell!

Anyway, Jude made us a spring-inspired pasta tonight with ramps, a little jowl bacon, and lemon (both zest and juice). I gobbled it down in no time at all. This was truly delicious!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ma Peche: freinds and family soft opening

I was lucky enough to get a seat today at Ma Peche--the new midtown Momofuku in the Chambers Hotel--for the friends and family "soft opening" with Jude. It was fantastic. I did take some pictures on my cell phone, but I will post again later with the photos, after the real press gets a crack at their debut. I don't want to be leaking anything!

It didn't hurt my excitement about the afternoon, of course, that Anthony Bourdain showed up with Peter Meehan (author of Momofuku) and sat down next to us. Jude knows Peter, so I got my thrill of the day with our tables conversing and passing photos of Ruby around (Anthony Bourdain called her "beautiful, " and so what if he was put in an obligatory position?!).

Tien Ho, you're a shining star! Congrats! There were some real standouts in this meal. I'm still licking my lips thinking over those pork ribs. Damn. And the snails and pork sausage? Who would have thought, years ago, when I was growing up in Hong Kong and had two giant captured "pet" snails (Cutie and Smiley) in an aquarium, that I would love eating them so much all these years later? And the pate was killer. When we were reading the menu and Jude saw the pate, his immediate thought was: "Well, we have to get that. Tien always makes killer pates." He wasn't wrong.

Perhaps I was a little drunk (when you've barely had any alcohol for a year and a half, your tolerance for even one delicious lunch cocktail is virtually nonexistent) after this meal, but as I walked around MoMA, I kept thinking about the meal I had just eaten. And, while thinking about it, I kept repeating Elizabeth Barrett-Browning's Sonnet 43 to myself. So I sat down and spilled out this silly version. Enjoy!

Oh, Momofuku Empire. How do I love thee?
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
Your food can reach, when management is tight.
For the joys of eating and ideal taste.
I love thee for making so little waste
Using all the animal parts, by neon kitchen-light.
I love thee freely, even as I write.
I love thee purely, dreaming of pork ribs in caramel glaze.
I love thee with a passion put to booze
In my old beliefs of food, and with a healthy dose of praise.
I love thee with a love for every little amuse,
From crab to beef tartar; I love thee with the hunch,
That I'll think of you all my life; and, if I had to choose,
I shall but love thee better for dinner than for lunch.

egg salad for lunches

I love hard-boiled eggs and any form of them. Jude whipped up a big batch of egg salad the other day for me to make sandwiches for a couple of lunches and snacks.

Our friend Pauline was taking care of Ruby and had some of this from the fridge. She asked me when I got home from work: "How does Jude make something like egg salad so good?" This is just the type of question I am constantly asking about everything that Jude makes! I have no good answer, other than that he puts his heart into that kitchen!

Monday, March 29, 2010

chilled peanut sesame noodles

This (or many variations of it) is one of Jude's go-to meals that he prepares quickly when there is "nothing" in the house to eat. It seems like he always has enough to pull off this delicious quickie-meal. As he is making the sauce, he always has me take little dabs and tell him what it needs...which, of course, always leads to me asking for more sugar. I don't know if I will ever get over my innate sweet tooth!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Asia Dog from the Brooklyn Flea

Jude and Ruby came home from their outing (while I sat here and got work done) with a lunch stashed in the basket beneath Ruby's stroller. They spent the morning at the Brooklyn Flea (the indoor location at the old bank on Hanson Place--so gorgeous!) and brought me back two hot dogs from Asia Dog. One was a beef dog called the "Ito," with Japanese curry and homemade kimchi apples. The other was the "Sidney," with mango relish, cucumber, red onion, cilantro, crushed peanuts, and fish sauce. For himself, Jude got one with Asian sesame slaw.

From the fish taco vendor, Jude picked us up a bottle of Coke imported from Mexico (where it's still made with cane sugar, not HFCS) to split. I don't drink soda anymore (as I try not to have anything with HFCS--although, I'm not going to lie, I snack on a lot of random candy at the office when it's around!), but we always buy a Mexican Coke when we see it!

Sunday peace-and-quiet breakfast in bed

I have a lot of work to get done and catch up on this weekend after a busy week, so Jude decided to give me some peace and quiet this morning. Ruby is at the age where she wants Mommy-Mommy-Mommy (she knows where the food it at) if I'm around, so Jude likes to take her out of the house to get her undivided attention.

While I played with Ruby in bed, Jude was busy making me a breakfast of warm corn tortillas, fried eggs, sliced avocado with sea salt and pepper, spicy bean dip, and pickled red onions.

Then, Jude changed Ruby, got her dressed for the day, bundled her up, and took her on an outing around the neighborhood so I could eat my breakfast in bed and get some things done. Phew! A few hours of quiet in my apartment. I hardly know what to do with myself!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Vietnamese feast at Tam and Rick's

Jude got to be a lucky eater tonight, too! We have been looking forward to this all week: our good friend, Tamy, really outdid herself in putting out an incredible spread of Vietnamese dumplings, buns, and various deliciousness for her dinner party this evening. We have known Tam for many years--we all met in college--and have had the good fortune of eating her delicious cooking on many occasions. She has a fantastic food blog, A Little Bit Burnt, about her adventures in cooking in her little Brooklyn kitchen with an electric stove.

Tam went all out for this meal--making the doughs (some with rice flour, some with tapioca, etc.) from scratch and experimenting with various fillings and dipping sauces. My favorite was the tapioca dough filled with pork and shrimp! Tam warned us that her husband, Rick, was taken aback at first about the chewy texture of the tapioca dough, but we really liked it. Tam's take was that this is what it's supposed to be: "It just is what it is." And, in my opinion, "what it is" happened to be delicious.

What an incredible treat! I cannot imagine how much work went into the preparations for this shindig! Tam said that, growing up, she had always helped her mom (they are from Vietnam) make all these things in their kitchen at home. Yesterday was the first time she attempted the feat alone and she said it was a lot of work!

It was a lovely evening--great food, great people, great fun. Ruby was there, too, and behaved like a champ!

You can read about how to make all of this stuff on Tam's blog post about the evening, chosen for Foodbuzz's 24-24-24 spotlight this month:

Dim Sum Classics and Vietnamese Dumplings

Friday, March 26, 2010

Motorino pizza and octopus

Jude and I have been craving pizza lately something fierce. I can't have it because of Ruby's allergy to an enzyme in cows' milk. I keep thinking that I should try a cheese-less pizza, but--to be perfectly honest--crust and tomato sauce is just not what I craving...No, it's the oily deliciousness of baked cheese that I miss so much. However, tonight I relented to trying a cheese-less pizza so that Jude could have real pizza to watch a little March Madness.

Jude picked up our dinner from Motorino Pizza in the East Village on his way home from work. Since I wasn't going to have "real" pizza, he also got me a green salad and an appetizer of warm and spicy octopus and potatoes (with chili oil, lemon, and parsley). The octopus was good and the salad was fine. My cheese-less pizza was really good as far as delicious pizza crust and tomato sauce are concerned, but--I'm not going to lie--it was a little bit difficult to watch Jude eat a "real" pizza with smoked pancetta, brussels sprouts, mozzarella, garlic and pecorino.

Choice Market lunch

Jude took Ruby out this morning to give me some quiet work time sans baby. They came home with this lunch for me from Choice Market: a BLT, a green salad, and a fruit cup. Good, but Jude's lunches are better!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I have to admit--my favorite things are the beans and the greens. They are so well-seasoned (ie. perfect amount of saltiness). I am excited to hear that Porchetta is coming to the Brooklyn Flea as a food vendor this summer!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Momofuku buns and noodles

Mom and Dad were disappointed that they never made it to Momofuku on this visit, so Jude brought Momo to them tonight. Of course it's not ideal to eat this stuff after it's ridden the subway home, but it's still delicious.

Jude brought us steamed pork buns (right) and--a special tonight--steamed beef brisket buns (left). Momofuku is known for their pork buns. Two slabs of pork belly, hoisin sauce, pickled cucumbers, and scallions inside a steamed rice dough bun...what could be better? The brisket buns tonight had horseradish mayo, pickled celery, and cilantro.

My mom and I got chilled ginger scallion noodles and the guys got chilled spicy noodles (not pictured).

Sunday, March 21, 2010

bacon makes everything more delicious

Have I mentioned before how much I love a good burger? I think so! Here is my burger from tonight with all the fixings (including my favorite topping, sliced pineapple), served with salt-and-pepper flavored Kettle chips.

So, I have said before that Jude now grinds all of our meat at home to make better quality (better cuts for better taste, but also from one animal for less risk) burgers. Tonight he had the brilliant idea to add a little bacon--just enough for taste--as he ground the steak. This added just enough smokey pork-flavored goodness to take these burger patties form fabulous to phenomenal.

Here are his patties before going in.

And after--nice char on the outside with a perfectly pink mid-rare on the inside. He seared them on a small pan on each side to get the crust first. Then, he put the whole pan into the oven and finished them off on a high heat. Perfection.

Here is the kitchen spread for our burger additions. Lettuce, fresh pineapple, tomatoes, raw red onions, Kewpie mayonnaise, a couple different mustards, sea salt, etc.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

pasta with guanciale, cannelloni beans, escarole, and parsley

I can't remember what kind of pasta this is--big thick spaghetti noodles that you have to cook just right. Jude made a quick and delicious pasta dish for us tonight with guanciale, cannelloni beans, escarole, and parsley. He sprinkled a little sea salt on top and yum!

Friday, March 19, 2010

porchetta sandwiches and sides

Jude brought home porchetta sandwiches from Porchetta in the East Village tonight. Also, for sides, he brought greens, beans, and salad. The beans and greens from Porchetta are seasoned so well--I gobbled down my greens-for-Ruby quickly for once! He also had some leftover Ruby Crescent Potatoes in the kitchen, so he roasted them and tossed them with soy for another side to go with our meal. Ruby had carrot puree--defrosted from late fall.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

tacos and cupcakes, of course!

I had my friend Liz over for dinner tonight. Jude made his fabulous tacos that are becoming a favorite in our household. That pork shoulder that he cooks in a unique (and varied every time) blend of charred tomatillos, charred scallions, garlic, oregano, cinammon, honey, cumin, coriander, onions, chili powder, bitter orange juice, vinegar, and a little bit of beer is TO DIE FOR. I eat the leftovers as tacos or just the meat by itself. Tonight's tacos also included a homemade slaw to add some tang and some home-pickled red onions to give them some acidity. And the cilantro on top=perfect. I feel sad for you if you are one of the people who is missing the taste bud necessary for cilantro to taste good. You have no idea what you're missing! And the black beans on the side are soaked and cooked from dry to avoid the BPA lurking in canned beans.

Liz brought me a favorite treat--cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery! Yum!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

banana-walnut pancakes, baked grapefruit, and fried eggs

Jude made a big breakfast for all of us (David and Rachel are still here) this morning. He made delicious banana pancakes with walnuts on top.

Baked grapefruit is one of my favorites. Usually we brulee them with sugar on top that caramelizes, but we were out of sugar and they were still delicious.

Here's David on to his eggs after polishing off his pancakes and grapefruit.