What’s in my belly…

My weeks have been a blur recently, and I can’t believe it is already September. Where did my summer go? Crisp fall weather strolling in; almost time for hot beverages other than morning coffee.

I barely remember any foods that I’ve eaten except for a few dishes that I either just had — homemade Taiwanese dumplings with Lee and Sharon — or delicious homemade hotpots with Lee and Sharon. Apparently, my most memorable food adventures are will Lee and Sharon.

Hotpots – soo yummy

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Pho (one of Jake’s favorite Vietnamese soups)

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and of course, lots and lots of different seafood

such as our 4 lb lobster

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shrimp pasta

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cioppino

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and clam chowder and dumplings not pictured.

Yummy tummys.

Ms. Helen’s Gumbo

I have been making this gumbo with Ms. Helen every Christmas since I was young. It’s an okra gumbo recipe, not roux-based, that originated from Louisiana. Ms. Helen’s parents were from New Orleans; and for those gumbo snobs who tout about “real” gumbo being roux-based, gumbo’s already a mix of culinary tastes ranging from African and Indian to French and Spanish that you’ll just as likely to find a true gumbo as a true Scotsman.

My recipe is modified to be cheap and simple and without further ado, the ingredients:

2 medium onions, chopped
minced garlic, (3-4 cloves or to taste)
3 bell peppers, chopped
2 bags frozen cut okra
3 celery ribs, diced
1 large can of tomatoes, undrained
beef or pork sausage, the hotter the better
1 roasted chicken, meat pulled in large chunks
1 bag of frozen oysters (highly optional)

To taste, season with:
Creole seasoning, Tony’s or equivalent
Salt and pepper
Chicken bouillon
Bay leaves

First, sweat and brown the onions. Then add the tomatoes and brown. Add garlic, sausage, celery, and bell peppers, and okra and brown slightly. Add chicken, oysters, water to fill 3-4 inches above the mixture, bay leaves and chicken bouillon. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 1 hr. Season with more chicken bouillon and creole seasoning to taste.

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What’s in my belly…

It’s been busy in Seattle!
1. Between my job and traveling and gaming habits, I haven’t updated my blog in so long. I’m currently moving into a townhouse after 6 months of subletting a room…so I’ve been dealing with unpacking and realizing how much stuff I have. Turns out I have too much birdstuff…(who woulda thought?) and not enough board games.
2. The birds are here! They be chirpin and sqwakin all day long. Luckily, the neighbors told me that they heard no noise through the walls! Yay for sound insulation!
3. This weekend has all been out exploring the neighborhood as well. I’ve never lived in a place with a walk score of 89 so it’s super convenient to walk everywhere. Which means I need to get into shape over this summer. The plan is bike around the lake later this afternoon.
4. I’ve been eating too well and have gained some weight! Seattle seafood is amazing! Oysters = yum.

Without further ado:

Oysters, mussels, clams (can eat all day long)
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Bruschetta, steak, calamari, and clam chowder

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More seafood!!!

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And finally some homemade bun rieu — the best I’ve made so far

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Palisades, Seattle

Brunch! Munch!

Seattle’s culinary scene is one of the best in quality, quantity, and variety. Sadly, I haven’t had the opportunity to eat out much because dining solo is not my cup of tea. Most of the food opportunities I get are with coworkers and managers from MS. Recently, I was able to check out a seafood, all-you-can-eat brunch buffet at the Palisades in Seattle. Located off the marina, it harbored amazing views and good food, which inevitably made a substantial dent in my checkbook.

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For my first plate, I decided to enjoy their chilled seafood selection of snowcrab legs, oysters on the half shell, and peel-and-eat shrimp. I was disappointed that they did not have dungess crab, but their shrimp and cocktail sauce was delicious — almost as delicious as the shrimp cocktail at St. Elmos in Indianapolis. Fresh shrimp. Powerful horseradish cocktail. Best combo.

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The next plate consisted of some sushi, prime rib with au jus, two types of salad, and a pesto/salami pasta. I nibbled on an assortment of homemade pickled vegetables including tangy carrots, mushrooms, green beans, and cauliflower. I proceeded to try their steelhead salmon/trout (apparently steelhead is a term for ocean trout and resembles Pacific salmon). In any case, it was tasty and would have been more so if I hadn’t already been full.

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You have the option of ordering eggs benedict with smoked salmon or ham. I chose the smoked salmon since its a trademark of the Pacific Northwest. The eggs benedict was to die for. Absolutely delicious.

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Last but not least, their assortment of desserts was quite staggering. I won’t go into much detail about their chocolate fountain, cookie varieties, fruits, parfaits, scones, cheesecakes or homemade chocolate truffles, but I will say that it all looked amazing. The best desert in my opinion was their mocha creme brulee. Not too sweet. Not too rich. Not too large. But just right.

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It was definitely a culinary once-a-year treat!

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Easy Cantonese-Style Lobster

The Lazy Man Approach to Cantonese Lobster

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For New Year’s Eve, my sister and I decided to whip up a quick and easy version of Cantonese lobster flavored with ginger, scallions, and soy sauce. We used 2 2lb fresh lobsters, 5 cloves of chopped garlic, 1 cup of chopped ginger, 1 bunch of scallions (green onions), 1 can of chicken broth, 1 cup of cooking wine, 1 tsp of sesame oil, 1 tbs olive oil, 2 tbs corn starch, 3-5 tbs soy sauce (to taste), and 2-3 tbs sugar (to taste). Serves 6-8.

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We started with chopping up the lobster into small chunks. This involved pushing a heavy, sharp knife through the center of the lobster head and splitting the lobster in half. The tail was chopped into bite sized pieces and claws cracked; the lobster head was trimmed of excess legs and antenna.  For the squeamish, it’s best to freeze the lobster for 1 hr before chopping it and to remove the tomalley before cooking. Some people, like me, enjoy eating the tomalley and don’t find it gross. Others find it too strong of a flavor.

DSC_1103The lobster chunks normally would be coated with either corn starch or flour and quickly deep fried before adding the sauce, but being a Lazy Man’s Approach, we skipped this. Instead, we stir-fried the garlic and ginger in both sesame and olive oil to release the aromas and poured in the cooking wine, soy sauce, sugar, and corn starch dissolved in chicken broth. At a low boil, we added the lobster claws and cooked that for 5 minutes before adding the rest of the lobster meat.

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We tossed everything around, put a lid on the pan, and cooked until the lobster turned red and looked done. After adding the scallions and mixing everything up again, the lobster was ready to serve.

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We also served shrimp and crabs boiled in Louisiana crab boil. It was a delicious dinner of seafood.

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Happy New Year! Hope the New Year brings exciting adventures, good food, and great company!